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New guidelines released as schools put together plans to bring kids back to school

PITTSBURGH — Parents are wondering when they will be sending their children back to school, but one thing is for sure: when they do, things will be very different.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a list of factors that districts should consider, including a phased reopening, staggered scheduling and social distancing protocols.

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School districts have so much to consider when it comes to reopening, including class size, transportation, extracurricular activities and more.

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Many districts are already working on plans and getting guidance from experts.

The AAP said districts should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on disinfecting, monitoring emerging findings on kids catching and spreading the virus, and the availability of testing for the coronavirus.

Many local districts, like Franklin Regional, are already hard at work crafting plans. The superintendent said he has proposed a back-to-school task force, which would include school board members, staff, parents, students and health care workers. They are tasked with studying a number of scenarios.

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“We’re going to have to really examine our practices and what we do in every aspect of schooling, from riding on a bus in the morning to walking through the doors, to how we feed students during the day and how we move them through a hallway," said Dr. Gennaro Piraino, Franklin regional school district superintendent.

The task force would look at a variety of possible scenarios and help with planning the upcoming school year. It may not just be this school year when districts need to look at changes. Experts from AAP said without a vaccine or treatment, there is a risk of future waves and district schools must prepare accordingly.