I’m a little surprised by this.
Courtesy of NPR:
The nation’s pediatricians have come out with a strong statement in favor of bringing children back to the classroom this fall wherever and whenever they can do so safely. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidance “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
The guidance says “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being.”
The AAP cites “mounting evidence” that transmission of the coronavirus by young children is uncommon, partly because they are less likely to contract it in the first place.
On the other hand, the AAP argues that based on the nation’s experience this spring, remote learning is likely to result in severe learning loss and increased social isolation. Social isolation, in turn, can breed serious social, emotional and health issues: “child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.” Furthermore, these impacts will be visited more severely on Black and brown children, as well as low-income children and those with learning disabilities.
The guidance for returning to in-person schooling includes recommendations about physical distancing, cleaning and disinfection, hand-washing, and using outdoor spaces whenever possible.
The AAP argues that offering elementary school children the opportunity to go to school every day should be given due consideration over spacing guidelines if capacity is an issue: “Schools should weigh the benefits of strict adherence to a 6-feet spacing rule between students with the potential downside if remote learning is the only alternative.”
And, it also argues that masks are probably not practical for children younger than middle school unless they can wear a mask without increased face touching.
Let me first confess that I participated in some of the online learning with few of my clients and it was truly terrible.
The kids were hard to motivate, there was confusion about how to finish and turn in assignments, and there were too many distractions within the home to keep them focused on learning.
Having said all of that I do not yet see a way to safely return children to the classroom setting.
Simply put children do not follow the rules and will not consistently wear masks, practice social distancing, or maintain appropriate hygiene levels to keep them safe.
We also do not really know for sure how easily the virus is spread among younger people because most of them do not seem to show any real symptoms.
So unless we have a way of testing them every few days there is no real way to weed out the infected from the uninfected.
Now I do think if schools could hold outside classes, with appropriate social distancing built into the seating arrangement, keep the kids from bunching together in narrow hallways, and transport them to and from school separately then there would be a way to legitimately start talking about returning to school.
However, I can tell you right now that those accommodations will not be available to the majority of kids in this country.
Which really leaves us with no good answers as to what do to moving forward.