A Local Doctor Shares His Own Preparation for Schools Opening In the Age of COVID-19

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With schools opening in the coming weeks, parents, kids, and administrators alike have shared concerns about in-person classes in the age of COVID-19. Doctor Boguslavsky, a local NJ doctor has addressed these concerns from his point-of-view not only as a medical professional, but as a parent, a member of the community, and the son of a retired teacher. Here’s how Dr. Boguslavsky plans to tackle this obstacle in his own words.


As the summer begins to wind down, on the lips of everyone I talk to these days is the same question: “Are the schools safe?” The parents may mean are the schools safe for my kids, while the teachers may be asking if the schools are safe enough for them to work in, and how much their jobs endanger themselves and their families.

covid 19 back to school expert opinon

The Administrators

The administrators of the schools find themselves in an unenviable position of being forced to make complex financial and health decisions {in the absence of strong federal leadership} that will have a direct impact on the lives of students of teachers under their charge. To me, it seems as absurd to ask a school superintendent to make public health decisions for thousands of people, as it would be asking me to design a music curriculum. And yet, this is what has been asked of every principal and superintendent across our state and our nation. Washington is pushing for schools to reopen fully and our state {in much better shape COVID-wise than most} is moving in that direction.

The schools opening in September would answer the question above in an affirmative and point to mandatory temperature checks, parent-directed health checks, efforts undertaken to assure social distancing, the numerous new sanitation stations, the alternating schedules, etc.

And yet, even with all that, everyone still asks me: “Are the schools safe?” Recall that my approach to risk is not binary, but rather that every activity contains some varying degree of risk. Being fully honest with ourselves we should acknowledge that schools, even prior to COVID, have always exposed those within their walls to some risk. Though that risk has ranged from something as benign as a winter cold to something as horrific as a school shooting, the risk has always been unlikely enough {school shooting} or mild enough {a cold} that we were willing to ignore it. Thus, one could answer the question above with: “Well, the schools were never fully safe, to begin with.”

Rather, I propose a slightly different formulation on that question, and one I believe I can answer: “If I work in a school, or if I send my kids to school, what can I do to minimize the COVID risk to myself and my family?” I’ll approach this question through the multiple lenses of my life, as a parent, as a physician, and as a member of the community. I hope this post helps you gain some clarity, and please feel free to share it with others struggling with the same questions.

Below are the things I am doing:

As a Parent

When my wife had asked me if I thought it was safe enough to send our kids to school, I answered yes. I answered affirmatively only after I looked at our community’s case numbers, and saw those numbers staying pretty much flat for months now. COVID is by no means gone in NJ, but the flat numbers suggest we are nowhere near the exponential growth of this past spring. That said, my “yes” is conditional on the continued flatlining of the case numbers of COVID in our community {to those reading these posts diligently we established that the baseline risk was relatively low at this time}.

Additionally, we as a family have established a protocol for our kids, which is remarkably similar to the one I follow daily upon return home from seeing patients. We plan on driving them to/from school, they are to wear masks at school at all times, and upon return home, each is to shed their clothing straight into the washing machine and are to march straight into the shower, touching nothing {thus, attempting to lower that baseline risk even more with behaviors shown to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, and thus decreasing the relative risk}.

My family’s approach may or may not be practical for your family but I would encourage everyone to make a plan that is practical for their family, to talk through this plan with their kids, and to establish a protocol that can be consistently followed. In addition to the above, we will make sure not to send in our kids to school if there is even a hint of illness, and we hope that other parents will do the same.

Finally, not everyone will send their kids to school and I support that decision wholly.

As a Doctor

As a physician, I am responsible for those under my direct care and I don’t take this responsibility lightly. I am expanding the practice’s ability to connect with patients via telemedicine. I am following the disease trends, and I am stocking up on whatever equipment I may need in the season ahead {including test kits and swabs}.

It is entirely plausible {if not likely} that school openings will not lead to new outbreaks, but I consider it my responsibility to prepare for the worst-case scenarios, as the best cases usually take care of themselves. I continue to read up on COVID and continue to learn from the experiences of other countries. I continue to test patients for COVID with nasal swabs and educate them on the value of antibody testing. I continue encouraging social distancing, masks in public, and extensive hand washing. Finally, I’ve developed a partnership with an outstanding local lab that is able to return nasal swabs results in just 48-hours. Labcorp and Quest deliver results in an average of 1-3 days from specimen pickup.

As a Member of the Community and a Son of a Retired Teacher

On behalf of my practice, I am making a commitment to the NJ educator community-at-large. Whether you are a teacher, a superintendent, or a school custodian, you can connect with my practice using this link, obtain a COVID evaluation, if appropriate, a swab for COVID, and test results within 24-48 hours. {If you know a teacher, forward them this link to save for the future – they will thank you.}

It doesn’t matter if you are the patient of my practice already, or if you and I have never met. It doesn’t matter if you are insured or if you are not. There won’t be a copay, or a surprise bill if your insurance doesn’t pay. You may not need this link now, but save it just in case you or your kids wake up 6 weeks from now with a loss of smell.

I hope I never have to swab you, but I can tell you from personal experience, that when you think you have COVID, every minute from that first suspicion to the moment you get an answer is absolute hell. I will make sure that should you find yourself in this circumstance, my practice will take care of you, that you are evaluated promptly, and that you get your result in the shortest time possible.

That is my commitment to those in the educator community who find the already challenging task of teaching compounded by the risks and uncertainties of the pandemic. I am here for you as you are there for my kids.

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