The Ana Grace Project Host Back To School Info Session On COVID-19


Ryan Brooks, Assistant News Editor

With schools across the nation entering the first phases of re-opening, many people are searching for ways to keep themselves, and others, safe from the coronavirus.

Aiming to address some of the concerns held by families and students alike, The Ana Grace Project hosted a Facebook live event called “Back To School Safety With The Relentless Nurse,” on Aug. 31, sponsored by the Central Connecticut’s Center for Excellence in Social & Emotional Learning.

Nelba Márquez-Greene, the founder and executive director of The Ana Grace Project, moderated the event. Márquez-Greene started program back in 2013 in honor of her daughter, Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, who was one of the 26 victims killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

During the livestream event, Márquez-Greene interviewed Robin Cogan, a nationally certified nurse and legislative co-chair for the New Jersey School Nurse Association, on what families should do about entering/returning to school this year.

“Prior to COVID, school safety was already tenuous,” Cogan said. “We were feeling unsafe because of active shooter drills. We were feeling unsafe at school because of daytime and nighttime community violence.”

Nevertheless, Cogan stated that there are specific steps that students, faculty and parents can take to reduce the chances of contracting the coronavirus.

”Wear a mask, watch your distance,” he recommended. “If your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more, your child will be sent home.”

Cogan elaborated that some of the COVID-19 symptoms to look out for include, but are not limited to, diarrhea, stuffy nose, cough, loss of smell and taste and any respiratory distress.

According to Cogan, 25 percent of school districts have no nurses and 35 percent have part-time nurses, leaving 57 million school-children with 96,000 school nurses.

“In COVID, who’s really gonna do the assessments?” Cogan prompted. “Who knows the childrens’ medical conditions?”

When Márquez-Greene opened up the livestream for questions, many parents inquired what to ask their local school boards to ensure the right steps are being taken to keep their children safe.

“Do you know that they have a strict regimen when it comes to sanitizing?” Cogan asked. “Are they looking at all those high-touch places? What are they doing about social distancing in the bathroom?”

Cogan emphasized that these are the “crucial questions” to ask district officials.

With 40 percent of children are asymptomatic spreaders, Cogan warned families that if they live with an immune-compromised person or with older people, extra precautions must be taken. Before entering their homes, it is recommended that people shower immediately and/or change into another outfit.

In addition to this, Cogan suggested that schools nationwide should mandate wearing a mask in order to decrease the stigma associated with it in many areas of the country.

“If schools are mandating masks then it’s not a choice, that would make it much easier [because] it takes some of the political pressure off the kids to [not] wear a mask,” Cogan further stated.

Cogan has spoken to epidemiologists about where the virus tends to spread most and has found that exposure seems to happen more at lunch and recess when students are taking their masks off and there’s not enough social distancing taking place.

To address this problem, many schools have operated under a half-day schedule, providing students with a lunch bag to take home; the bag also contains breakfast for the next day.

As the Facebook livestream came to a close, Cogan urged Americans to get their yearly flu shot.

“Please, please, everybody get a flu shot,” Cogan pleaded. “We’re going to have a rough flu season, we’re not going to [be able to] tell the difference, [getting a shot] is going to make a big difference this year.”