CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There is a big push for children to go back to school in-person this school year from pediatricians.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said evidence shows the benefits outweigh the risks from the coronavirus.
Children are less likely to become sick from the virus than adults, according to pediatricians.
And they said the mental and physical benefits of in-person learning cannot be replaced.
“I think the best thing we can do is try to limit the number of children that each child is exposed to,” said Dr. Chris Peltier, president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics Ohio Chapter.
Peltier is a pediatrician in Cincinnati and is originally from Northeast Ohio.
He was a part of the governor’s press conference regarding reopening schools on Thursday.
Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced a set of guidelines for school districts to follow this fall.
He said the goal is to have students physically present at school when possible.
DeWine said the guidelines give schools local control.
He said each school should develop a policy on students wearing face masks and staff are required to wear masks. They recommend students in 3rd grade and up wear masks at school too.
Peltier said research shows many children lost out this spring during quarantine when classes went virtual.
“Teachers and school officials weren’t able to see children. We know that puts them at increased risk of not identifying sexual and physical abuse, mental health disorders,” he said.
The AAP made different recommendations based on grade levels.
They point out that you can't really remove 100 percent of the risk.
Peltier said students may have to socially distance on buses and hallways should be marked "one way."
Teachers should rotate in and out of classrooms, keeping the students in one place when possible.
“Trying to stagger change of classroom times, so that if we’re talking about middle school or high school, all of the students aren’t mingling in the hallways,” Peltier said.
AAP recommendations also include eliminating lockers and students eating in classrooms instead of the cafeteria.
Peltier said masks are better for older students and younger kids should focus on hand washing.
“So there are some children where, honestly that’s not going to be a good option. Very young children, preK or Kindergarten,” Peltier said.
19 Investigates wanted to know what happens if students are back in class and there's another outbreak?
Peltier said if it's just one school, you may be able to shut it down for two weeks.
But if there's a spike in cases in the community, local officials may have to shut the whole school district down.
“So it’s important for schools not only to have a plan for re-entry in the fall, but also a plan for what’s going to happen if the virus in certain communities ramps up. We have to be prepared for that,” Peltier said.
Teacher safety is also a top concern.
Doctors recommend teachers wear masks, do virtual faculty meetings and don't eat lunch together.
Peltier said schools might also consider putting up plexiglass barriers around their desks.