Children need to be physically in school, says pediatric group

The group, which represents and guides pediatricians across the country, updated its back-to-school recommendations to say that the evidence shows that the academic, mental, and physical benefits of in-person learning outweigh the risks of the coronavirus.

“The AAP strongly recommends that all policy considerations for the upcoming school year begin with the goal of having students physically present at school,” the group said on its website.

“The importance of in-person learning is well documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children due to the closing of schools in the spring of 2020. The prolonged time out of school and the associated disruption of support services to They often result in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address significant learning deficits, such as physical or sexual abuse of children and adolescents, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. “

Schools are probably not greatly amplifying the spread of the coronavirus, and children are less likely to become seriously ill from the virus than adults, the pediatric group added.

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While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of the virus spreading, the AAP listed specific recommendations based on different grade levels.

For example, pre-kindergarten schools should focus on hand hygiene, organize classes to minimize crossing between children and adults, and use outdoor spaces when possible. Facial covers or physical distancing are of lower priority since these strategies may be more difficult to implement in younger children.

But in middle and high schools, universal face liners should be required when a distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained and desks must be placed a distance of 3 to 6 feet.

The AAP’s recommendations come as states across the country unveil plans for the 56 million school-age children in the United States to return to school in the fall.
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Earlier this month, Virginia state officials announced a phased hybrid approach to reopen K-12 schools that would have stringent measures of social distancing, which may require “alternative schedules that combine in-person and remote learning for students, “according to a press release.
Connecticut also announced that K-12 schools should plan to reopen for all students in the fall. Schools must work to maximize social distancing, including reconfiguring desks to maximize distance, frequent handwashing and the need to cover the faces of students and staff, said Miguel Cardona, commissioner of the state Department of Education , at a press conference last week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also suggested that keeping schools closed generally is not necessary.

“In some situations there will be no problem getting children back to school,” Fauci told CNN earlier this month. “In others, you may need to make some modifications. You know, the modifications might be disrupting class so you don’t have a crowded classroom, maybe half the morning, half the afternoon, with kids making alternate schedules ”

The coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of slowing down in the United States.

Thirty-one states saw an increase in new coronavirus cases last week compared to the previous week, primarily in the south and west. Another 15 states held steady the previous week, and only four states, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, saw a decline.

CNN’s Maggie Fox, Annie Grayer, Christina Maxouris, Eric Levenson and Elizabeth Hartfield contributed to this report.


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