Emory’s top infectious doctor explains pros and cons of reopening schools

ATLANTA — As schools begin to reopen, Emory University held a virtual video briefing Tuesday to discuss safety measures parents and school district leaders should consider this fall.

An infectious disease expert and professor at Emory University School of Medicine explained there are some pros and cons with students being back in the classroom.

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Dr. Marybeth Sexton said it’s better psychologically for them to be around other students, and they can focus on the material in a different way in a classroom setting.

However, Sexton said there are a lot of cons in the middle of a pandemic, as cases continue to rise in Georgia.

Sexton gave a good example of Camp High Harbour in Rabun County that had to be shut down recently due to hundreds of kids and staff testing positive for COVID-19 because they were all in close quarters.

She says if you assume the average person infects two to three other people, that can easily jump to 10 to 30 people and then to 60-90 people, which could possibly close a school down.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Schools and coronavirus]

Sexton says if it’s really important for students to be back in the classroom, ask yourself, “What are you willing to do to make that happen?”

“If people were willing to wear a mask at all times in public, avoid going out except for essential activities and when they are out in public to continue to maintain that 6-foot distance, avoided in person dinning, large parties, family gatherings and did that for a couple weeks, we would be in much better shape,” Sexton said.