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Why can't my kids go to school but I can go to Wal-Mart? | Why Guy

Walt breaks down the difference between shopping at a big box store and your child attending school.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Today's Why Guy question comes to us from Nicholas Jaye, who asks: "Why can we go to Home Depot and Walmart, but the kids can't go to school?"  

Nicholas, it's a question we hear often. Big box stores have been open since COVID-19 began to take hold in the U.S. last March. Why?  They were deemed "essential businesses" and customers are spread out, so they're not on top of each other. There's much more room inside a 100,000 square foot Wal-Mart compared to an average school classroom.

An elementary school classroom is on average 1,000 square feet with approximately 20 students and a teacher. Maintaining a six foot social distance is a challenge, especially with more than 20 kids in class, which is typical. 

"The classroom environment is prone to the spread of germs and other viruses based on the close proximity of the students and the interaction with multiple items in the classroom," Tom Hopkins, a physician in Roseville, said.

While some schools have reopened for in-class learning, they're not an essential business and face more challenges in a smaller space to keep students apart and healthy.

"The bottom line, the closer you are to other people, the more likely you are to contract germs and other viruses," Hopkins said.


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