(Gray News) - Citing academic and social concerns, the American Academy of Pediatrics encouraged schools to have the goal of “having students physically present in school” despite the rising tide of COVID-19 infections nationwide.
The pediatrics group said that evidence indicates the closures of schools in spring amid the coronavirus pandemic had a negative effect on students.
“Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression and suicidal ideation,” the advisory said.
The group also claimed that the current evidence suggests having students go to school during the pandemic isn’t as risky as one would think. Young children and teens seem less likely to get infected and spread COVID-19 infections, though questions about the novel coronavirus still linger.
“Policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families and the community by keeping children at home,” the pediatrics group said.
To support the reopening of schools, the pediatrics organization said that for students, “evidence suggests that spacing as close as 3 feet may approach the benefits of 6 feet of space, particularly if students are wearing face coverings and are asymptomatic.”
Other recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Adults should stay 6 feet apart from each other
- Parents should be discouraged from entering the school
- Plexiglass barriers in places like offices should be installed
- Staggered drop-offs and pickups to increase physical distancing among adults
The guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics includes concise recommendations by age groups.
Many school districts who have announced plans for the new school year plan to offer parents the option of either in-person or online attendance for the first semester.