The American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of 67,000 pediatricians across the U.S., has weighed in on the debate to reopen schools, arguing kids should be physically present in schools.
Studies have associated school closures and online learning with regressions in academic gains, higher levels of anxiety and depression among students, greater dependence on digital devices, and even increased risk of abuse.
Plus, nearly 27 million workers depend on schools for childcare, so keeping kids home slows the efforts to reopen businesses and boost the economy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics argues, “The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The organization flatly states that children learn best when they are in school.
The statement, which can be found on the AAP website, offers schools guidance in areas like physical distancing, disinfecting, testing, face coverings and more.
The risk of COVID-19 spread in schools isn’t zero, but it appears to be low. Children and adolescents are less likely to have symptoms or severe disease from infection. They’re less likely to become infected or spread the virus.
Some schools in Israel, Japan, and South Korea had to close again when COVID-19 clusters emerged. We could do the same here. But none of the 22 European nations that have reopened schools have observed an increase in infections among children, parents, or staff.
Schools don’t just teach kids reading, writing and arithmetic. They are where they learn social skills, get physical exercise, and even receive mental health support.
With little over a month before summer break ends, school officials, government and health officials, and teachers and parents should come together to work on ways to get children back in the classroom.