TAMPA, Fla. — As Florida's confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, the White House Coronavirus Task Force is urging the state's schools to come up with alternative spaces for in-person learning that provide more room for social distancing and improved ventilation.
Florida school districts and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days a week for all students in August as part of an executive order issued on July 6.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force's coronavirus response coordinator, spoke with Newsy and said schools need to look beyond traditional classrooms, where students are in much closer proximity, for spaces where children can learn on campus.
"Some of them may be in areas where you can have outdoor classrooms," Birx said. "Some of them may be in areas where there's a very large gym that could be easily sectioned off and increase ventilation."
Birx also said there is no one size fits all solution for every school district because each individual school building is different.
"Right now, the CDC guidelines are quite good but very, very specific without showing: this is how you get to that same answer and that same safety construct," Birx said.
Additionally, she had a message for parents.
"What we do know is children in general that don't have pre-existing conditions, you know, aren't being treated for cancer or other medical conditions, actually do quite well with the virus," Birx said.
However, Birx said states in the southern part of the state need to continue to be vigilant in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
This includes wearing cloth face coverings, which she said are effective in slowing the transmission of the coronavirus.
Birx went on to say that some places in the country appear to have slowed the spread of the virus, but others like Florida, Texas and Arizona have not.
"In those cases, we think a lot of that spread happened from bars and indoor bars," Birx said. "And so that's why we've advised the governors to close the bars."
Additionally, Birx said states with spikes in COVID-19 numbers should consider limiting indoor dining and encouraging people to dine outdoors, as well as limiting all gatherings, including those inside our own homes.
"We've always been clear that outside gatherings are safer than inside gatherings," she said. "And inside gatherings with smaller numbers are safer than large numbers."