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Emory University doctor and former teacher suggests staggered starts, plexiglass lunch barriers to avoid COVID-19 spread in schools

The decision between teaching in-person or online has become a hot debate.

ATLANTA — Emory University hosted a briefing on safety measures parents and educators should consider as schools reopen across the state. 

The decision between teaching in-person or online has become a hot debate. 

Dr. Marybeth Sexton is an infectious disease doctor at Emory University, but before she went to medical school, she was a teacher in the Atlanta metro.

Sexton said she understands the challenges as families head back to school. However, she reiterated that if a school chooses to reopen there must be a lot of safety measures in place. 

"If this is really important for us to have kids in school - it should be - then what are we willing to do to make that happen?" Sexton asked. 

She says it starts with how kids get to school

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"Everybody on [the] bus [should] have a mask on and each kid [should have their] own seat," Sexton said. She also said schools need to have a staggered start or even staggered days so there are fewer people in the building. 

She said schools should consider plexiglass between kids eating lunch, since they have to take off masks to eat and drink. 

"All these come with their own challenges and expense, but they do make it safer," she explained. 

Pictures showing groups of students together at Creekview High School has Sexton more concerned as well.

"This is my biggest worry – the behavioral aspect," she stated.

"The problem is, if you assume the average person infects ten people, it's very quickly thirty people - very quickly sixty to ninety people. And that could quickly close a school down," she explained.