Center for Health Security Senior Scholar Dr. Caitlin Rivers Testifies at US House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis
On August 6, 2020, Dr. Caitlin Rivers, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided testimony at a congressional hearing on public health considerations for reopening schools for in-person learning.
The hearing was convened by the US House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Dr. Rivers’ testimony provided an update on the outbreak in the United States, what is known and unknown about the disease in children, and what factors must be considered to safely reopen schools.
“We have been looking ahead to school reopening since they first closed in March. And now, in August, the time we knew would come has indeed arrived. Schools are preparing for a new school year, but, irrespective of whether they are virtual or in-person, this year will present unprecedented challenges to teachers, administrators, students and their families,” said Dr. Rivers. “Our outbreak is simply not under control like we hoped it would be by this time.”
Dr. Rivers provided recommendations for a way forward:
- Decisions should be left to communities, but they need clear guidance and technical support from public health authorities at the federal, state and local levels.
- Districts need supplemental funds to implement the mitigation measures needed to slow disease spread or to support the technologies and support services needed to deliver and support effective remote learning.
- School decision makers need to be able to make decisions appropriate to their local disease prevalence, risk tolerance, and capacity to implement mitigation measures without fear of having funds withheld or their decision undermined.
- The federal government should put in place now the necessary research studies to collect data on our most pressing questions, like whether asymptomatic children are infectious, which mitigation measures are most important, how remote learning can be most effective, and how best to approach these issues with respect to underlying educational inequities.
Read the full testimony. (PDF)