AAP guidance: Benefits outweigh risks of students returning to school come fall

Education

WASHINGTON (WPRI) — Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the benefits of children going back to school in the fall outweigh the risks.

Last month, both Massachusetts and Rhode Island unveiled three possible scenarios for the upcoming academic year, the first being that nearly all students are in the classroom by the first day of classes. Other scenarios include remote learning, or a combination of the two.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday and said it’s imperative that the nation gets their kids back to school.

“If you are in an area where you have a certain amount of infection dynamics, there are things that can creatively be done about modifying things like the school schedule-alternate days, morning versus evening, allowing under certain circumstances online virtual lessons,” Fauci said. “Those are the kind of things that we need to consider, but also importantly, always make the goal that it is very important to get the children back to school.”

In a statement, the AAP says it, “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” It also says the closure of schools has had “a differential impact” on racial, ethnic and vulnerable groups.

An excerpt from the AAP’s Guidance for School Re-entry says that time away from school can make 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,” in addition to having an impact on food security and physical activity.

Both Massachusetts and Rhode Island are stressing the importance of face masks, social distancing and hygiene upon students’ return to school.

“That will help to keep the level of infection in the community down, which will then make it easy to get the children back to school,” Fauci said.

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