NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One of the hottest debates right now is when and how to re-open schools during this pandemic.

A new study says that early school closures this past spring likely saved thousands of lives. So should schools open at all? CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez dives into that question in his latest Max Minute report.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The decision to re-open schools for in-person education is one that will have lifelong implications for millions of children and their families. But will cash-strapped school districts be able to re-open safely and could school kids then become COVID-19 spreaders?

Hard evidence for the risk or benefits of opening or keeping schools closed is lacking. There are too many variables.

But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analyzed data from states that closed their schools earliest, beginning in early March and estimated that had early school closures been instituted nationwide, well over 1 million cases of COVID-19 could’ve been prevented and saved more than 40,000 lives.

So should schools re-open this fall?

“We don’t have a lot of data to draw from in order to know how to do this,” said Dr. Annette Anderson, Johns Hopkins CTR for Safe and Healthy Schools.

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Dr. Anderson is a professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Education.

“When we say, everybody go back, I think that that just presumes that schools can just re-open without having additional resources, without having the capacity to successfully socially distance and to give instruction and support to teachers and staff about how they need to do the work of social distancing safely,” said Dr. Anderson.

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Dr. Anderson says that the first step should be to bring parents into the school, show them what the school is doing to keep their kids safe and rebuild their trust.

Then schools will have to evaluate their facilities and create a plan, making sure they have the staff and dollars to implement that plan. That last part, dollars, will be the downfall for many school districts.

For the top questions people have been asking about the coronavirus, visit cbsnewyork.com/max, and go to facebook.com/cbsnewyork to submit your question.

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