Dr. Charlene Whitfill
Radiologist; School Recovery Council
Dr. Charlene Whitfill is a radiologist and advised a school in Phoenix, Arizona during the pandemic. Dr. Whitfill went to Johns Hopkins University then completed medical school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. As a physician, Dr. Whitfill specializes in radiology and has extensive insight into Arizona’s health systems given she has worked in the state for over 20 years.
The mother of a school-aged child, Dr. Whitfill and her family experienced the challenges of keeping schools open as COVID-19 began to spread in the spring of 2020. After weeks of online learning, her child’s school reached out that summer to see if Dr. Whitfill would be an advisor and assist on a reopening plan. With a medical background, Dr. Whitfill keenly observed how hospitals were dealing with the virus and believed that if schools implemented similar protective measures, they could safely provide in-person learning. Dr. Whitfill led the school to reopen and guided teachers, administrators, students, and families on actions to combat the spread of COVID-19 over the following school year.
Dr. Whitfill worked to inform the school by translating new data published about the pandemic into language that non-medical professionals could understand. She rapidly assisted in disseminating best practices regarding PPE, social distancing, and vaccination uptake to prevent outbreaks at school. Dr. Whitfill commented on how engendering trust throughout the whole process ensured people agreed to take scientific, preventative measures to combat the virus. Research is now showing the importance of in-person learning, and Dr. Whitfill was a pioneer by helping a school stay open during this pandemic.
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