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Multiple European countries already sending students back to school

Iceland, France, Germany, Israel and other countries are all allowing their students to return to the classroom.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci gives remote testimony before the Senate on May 12
(Win McNamee/Getty)
Updated: May 12, 2020 - 3:01pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Europe and Asia countries are starting to allow their students to return to school. In some cases students have been back for weeks. 

States in Germany began a staggered re-opening schools starting in mid-April. Denmark began re-opening its schools on April 15. Switzerland began sending its students back to school on Monday after two months of lockdown. France began opening schools today. Israel says its middle schools will open later this week, while its elementary schools began opening earlier this month. 

Australia, Iceland, Japan, Norway and numerous other countries have all announced various re-opening plans, some of them already underway. Sweden, meanwhile, famously never shut its schools. 

Some health officials have been pointed in stressing the relative safety of sending children back to school. Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth wrote earlier this month that "all of the available evidence from within Australia and around the world ... does not support avoiding classroom learning as a means to control COVID-19," and that "the national position remains that face-to-face teaching is safe, particularly given the current very low rates of community transmission of SARS-CoV-2."

Norway Minister of Education Guri Melby, meanwhile, has repeatedly claimed that "going to pre-school is safe." 

Fauci warns officials to be 'very careful' about re-opening schools

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday warned that U.S. officials should be "very careful" in sending children back to school.

Fauci said before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that public officials should proceed with significant caution when considering whether or not schools should re-open in the fall, several months away. 

Responding to a question from Sen. Rand Paul, who pointed out that children have been observed to be largely unaffected by COVID-19, Fauci---who was speaking via remote link while he sits in partial quarantine due to possible exposure to the coronavirus---said experts should be “humble about what we don’t know” regarding the disease. 

“We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children,” he said, pointing out that medical officials have been documenting cases of unexplained inflammatory syndromes in children with COVID-19.

“I think we ought to be careful that we’re not cavalier in thinking children are completely immune to the effects [of the virus],” he said,

Fauci conceded that "children in general do much, much better than adults and the elderly, particularly those with underlying conditions." Still, he said, “I don’t know everything about this disease, and that’s why I’m reserved in making broad predictions.”

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