SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Gov. Newsom laid out new rules Friday that likely ensure most Bay Area schools will start with at-home, online instruction come fall.

To plan a safe return to classroom education, a UCSF task force has been gathering data from other countries that have successfully figured out what works and what doesn’t. With solid science, doctors say classrooms are not petri dishes and kids won’t be used as guinea pigs as schools try to find a way back to in-person learning.

“It’s hard, we’re in a hard position. The only way forward is for all of us to work together,” said Dr. Naomi Bardach who is on the UCSF task force for a safe return to school.

“What I will say is the error we made this time around in the dance was opening up bars and restaurants before schools but, as a society, we should open schools first,” Dr. Bardach added.

Thirty of California’s 58 counties are on the coronavirus monitoring list. Doctors say there’s a way to get kids back to school but it all hinges on seeing a decline in COVID-19.

“With rising community prevalence, it’s not going to work. There’s good data that shows if community transmission is going on, it will translate into schools and it will occur mostly in adults,” Dr. Bardach said.

Doctors say kids, especially in elementary school, are at a very low risk of catching coronavirus. The bigger concern is spread between faculty and staff.

“Our usual mental model is we think that our kids are the source of infection. It’s when you get into the break room and you take your mask off to eat, that’s actually where our greatest risk of transmission is going to be,” Dr. Bardach said.

Physicians can’t say when a return to school will be possible but parents can play an important role in speeding up the process. Dr. Ally LaBarbara, a pediatrician, said, “Make good choices, we bend over backwards for our kids, we do everything for our kids and the minimum we can do for our kids now is wear a mask, socially distance and stay at home.”

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