The latest American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advice says children learn best when they are in school. But returning to school in person requires important steps in place to keep students and staff safe. These decisions must consider the spread of COVID-19 in the community, as well as whether schools are able to make in-person learning safe. Schools and families should also prepare to go back to virtual learning if COVID cases increase in the community.

 

Why students should safely go back to school?

 

The AAP guidance is based on what pediatricians and infectious disease specialists know about COVID-19 and kids. Evidence so far suggests that children and adolescents are less likely to have symptoms or severe disease from infection. They also appear less likely to become infected or spread the virus. Schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents. In addition to reading, writing, and math, children learn social and emotional skills, get exercise, and have access to mental health support and other things that cannot be provided with online learning. For many families, school is where kids get healthy meals, access to the internet, and other vital services.

 

What schools can do?

 

  • Physical distancing. The goal should be to stay at least 6 feet apart to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.  Spacing desks at least 3 feet apart and avoiding close contact may have similar benefits for students, especially if students wear cloth face coverings and do not have symptoms of illness.
  • Teachers and staff should also wear cloth face coverings and limit in-person meetings with other adults. When possible, outdoor spaces can be used for instruction and meals. Students should also have extra space to spread out during activities like singing and exercising.
  • Cloth face coverings & Hand Hygiene. Frequent hand washing with soap and water is important for everyone. In addition, all adults should wear cloth face coverings. Preschool and elementary students can benefit from wearing masks if they do not touch their mouths or noses a lot. Secondary school students should wear cloth face masks, especially when they cannot stay a safe distance apart.

 

Remember that returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic may not feel like normal. But having safety plans and making sure schools have the resources needed to follow them can help protect students, teachers, staff, and families. For additional information on managing the return to school safety, give us a call today at 407-566-9700.

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