Pediatricians call for school reopenings this fall

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has directed schools to develop three contingency plans to prepare for the 2020 school year based on three scenarios.

The three scenarios are:

  • All students return to school
  • Students return to school under a hybrid model (a mix of in-school and distance learning)
  • No students return to school, distance learning only

The MDE, MDH and the Governor’s office are expected to announce which model of educational delivery will be in the “best interest” of the health and safety of students and staff by the week of July 27.

As I previously wrote here, teachers and parents have expressed concern over continuing to keep students out of the classroom.

And the nation’s pediatricians appear to be in agreement. According to a statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

Not only are schools “fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being,” but there is “mounting evidence regarding COVID-19 in children” that indicates they “may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection” because they are less likely to catch the disease in the first place.

AAP also encourages policymakers to acknowledge that COVID-19 policies are intended to “mitigate, not eliminate” the spread of the virus within schools and “must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families, and the community by keeping children at home.”

To help schools plan for reopening, AAP provided guidance on physical distancing measures, cleaning and disinfection, and listed strategies for elementary and secondary schools to prioritize.