Answering Questions on School Reopening and CF

As schools start to reopen, parents, students, and households aim to make the best decisions for those living with cystic fibrosis. Here's your guide to hearing the risks, benefits, and key factors to consider for in-person and distance learning.

Aug. 6, 2020 | 3 min read
Ginger Birnbaum

Last week I was thrilled to moderate a virtual event around school reopening and the decisions that many households with cystic fibrosis are making around in-person and distance learning. A panel of experts shared key considerations to keep in mind and answered some of the top questions from the community.

The panel discussion featured three speakers: Dr. Clement Ren, professor of clinical pediatrics and CF Center Director at Riley Hospital for Children and Indiana University School of Medicine; Sarah Strong, a school liaison specialist with Cincinnati Children's Hospital; and Sue Sullivan, senior director and head of Community Partnerships at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We were also joined by Dr. Mike Boyle, president and CEO, who opened the event with an overall update on COVID-19 and the CF community.

Use the timestamps below to skip ahead to the questions most important to you or watch the whole session.

2:20-12:30 - COVID-19 and CF update from Dr. Boyle

13:10-31:01 - Is it safe to send someone in my household back to school if they, or someone else in the house, has CF?

31:18-33:37 - Can you speak about the risk of sending someone in the household back to school, even if the individual with CF is staying home?

33:43-39:44 - What are IEPs and 504 plans? When would I request one, and how would they help?

39:56-47:06 - What kind of accommodations should I be asking for -- either for my student, or for myself/partner/spouse -- as a school employee?

47:08-49:15 - What about college?

50:28-54:25 - Is it safe for people with CF to wear masks for a long time? Are masks risky?

54:28-58:24 - Are there extracurricular activities that would be safe for kids to participate in, even if they are doing distance learning?

58:56-1:01:52 - How should we help our kids with anxiety about returning to school?

1:01:57-1:03:07 - Is it safe to join up with another family for play dates or other activities?

1:03:10-1:06:06 - Is distance learning something we would request through a 504 plan if our school isn't offering it? Do private schools have to offer these accommodations?

1:06:08-1:09:57 - How can we help kids who are distance learning to stay connected to their teachers and to their peers?

1:09:58-1:12:07 - At what point should we pull a child or teacher from school if someone in the school tests positive?

1:12:08-1:14:13 - Are there additional precautions you'd recommend for teachers or other adults working in a school environment? How can they advocate for themselves and help others in their classrooms understand the risks?

1:14:17-1:15:29 - Is there any concern about cleaning solutions used for sterilizing school environments being dangerous for kids with CF?

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Ginger is mother to her son King, who is living with cystic fibrosis. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, she currently works as a community advocate. Ginger is the Peer to Peer Leadership Council Chair, Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital CF Care Center Patient Family Partner, Mental Health Advisory Committee member, founder of National Family Team Kenneth King's Believers, a Tennessee state healthcare advocate, a Foundation event enthusiast, and was the Volunteer Leadership Conference Co-Chair in 2017. She lives on Lookout Mountain, with King, her husband Alex, and their daughter Emma Virginia who is a fierce advocate for her brother.

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