American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Children Return To School

The AAP recommends children return to school in the fallWhat will school look like in the fall? Will we go back? Will we be online? Will it be a hybrid? Will it be safe? What should we do? All questions we mamas are asking, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has weighed in saying they believe that children should go back to school in the fall.

If you have a school-aged child (and you’re not already homeschooling), it’s probably the question that is plaguing you the most in all of the COVID-19 concessions–what will school look like in the fall, and should my child go back (if that’s even an option)?

Related: Experts Concerned About How COVID-19 Affects Children’s Mental Health

Since most schools shut down to flatten the curve back in March, the subject of them reopening is a hot topic. Many worry about children becoming asymptomatic carriers and bringing SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 to their families, while others worry tremendously about the significant mental health implications if they’re not to return, or if they return with strict regulations that force near social isolation.

Few are bold enough to weigh in heavily, as the reality is that there really is no perfect answer, and no one wants to make the wrong choices.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has weighed in, and in an interview with Today, President Dr. Sally Goza said that children need to get back in school because there is so much more than just the basics of academics they get from school. Saying that you just can’t get social and emotional skills, healthy meals and exercise and mental support online, Dr. Goza said the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the upcoming school year should start with the main goal of students being physically present in school.

To facilitate this goal, they’ve issued a detailed school re-entry guidance plan that breaks down guidance based on students’ age groups and emphasizing the need for physical distancing, cleaning, staggered bussing, mask-wearing and more.

This recommendation is different from the position from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the CDC’s recommendations are for maintaining online learning for the lowest risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Dr. Goza said that especially for families who rely on school lunches or who have limited access to health care or the internet, the pandemic has been hard. The same goes for families in which both parents need to work. She also commented on the fact that remote learning is especially difficult for students with special needs, and there is grave concern about regression.

Of course, Dr. Goza acknowledged that enforcing mask-wearing and physical distancing would be difficult, but necessary and that when looking at reopenings in countries like Denmark, China, Norway and Singapore, was totally doable. She also referenced data that suggests children do not spread the virus as much as adults do.

The thing is, many teachers are concerned about returning to school–especially those older teachers who are more at-risk for complications. Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools System issued plans that recommended either complete online learning or hybrid, with students attending for two days a week and online learning the rest. Three education associations responded, questioning the return at all, and vocalizing concern about teacher safety.

Dr. Goza said that teachers will need to wear masks, physical distance and stay six feet apart from children and other teachers–which may be quite difficult, considering kids will be kids. The National Education Association, a labor union that represents millions of teachers and school support staff, also issued recommendations and guidance for return to school, saying that it’s not just about getting ‘back to school’ but getting back to ‘better.’

Related: Should I Let My Kids Go Back to School? Will That Even Be An Option?

We’re in the middle of unprecedented times, and frankly, we’re not sure anyone knows the perfect answer because if we’re honest, we really wish our kids could have ‘normal’ –that we ALL could have normal again.
That’s just not reality, though, and we believe that families will just have to find what’s best for them in these uncharted days.

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