Driving the Risk Based Decision to Return to School
Updated: Aug 6
Over the past few months, the return to school has appeared to become increasingly political, and it really shouldn't be that way. Stakeholders (parents, students, faculty, staff, vendors, and administrators) who are significantly impacted by a return to school, require a mechanism to understand their individual and collective risk in doing so - and this risk based decision is very much an individual consideration.
In reviewing the science around COVID-19, it became clear that there is significant information out there, but it is not consolidated into an easy to digest collection that can be used by an individual to make a decision. In light of that, VirusSafeSchools was launched. The science was reviewed and continues to be reviewed. This questionnaire will change as new and better information is generated by the legions of excellent researchers as they publish around the world. The questionnaire acts as a consolidated register of important concerns that could be addressed by schools and school districts.
What was also interesting is that we are in an election year (at least in the United States) and politics is significantly shaping perceptions. The purpose of this questionnaire is to exclude politics from gathering information so that individuals can make a good decision. It is unlikely that any school or school district will answer all of the questions in a way that would demonstrate a reduced risk for every single item. That may not be desirable for the most risk averse individual; however, that's the reason for asking the question - each of us needs to know what the real risk is, and the answers to these questions will allow each of us to understand the risk for ourselves.
Clearly, if your household is a healthy three-person family with parents in their 20s and a six year-old 1st grader, your risk appetite is very different from a multi-generational household that includes teens, parents in their 50s and grandparents in their 70s or 80s. This questionnaire can help across the entire spectrum of risk appetite, and the same answers will likely lead to different decisions based upon the individual situation.
The questionnaire was originally designed for parents to make decisions regarding a return to school or continued distance learning; however, it can be used by any of the noted stakeholders to help them determine what their risk is and for the schools and districts to determine where they might be able to improve risk mitigation for their constituents. For example, a school or school district might look at the first set of questions about air handling to determine if there are any improvements that can easily and cost effectively be made to reduce risk to the students, faculty, staff, and administration within the school environment.
VirusSafeSchools looks forward to your feedback to continue improving the questionnaire and will be incorporating relevant feedback into future versions.