How Do We Safely Send Our Kids Back to School?

 

The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school

Recommendations:

  1. Stay current on well visits and vaccinations
    1. MMR vaccination rate dropped 50% - we need to stay up to date or we will be dealing with another pandemic
    2. Offices are safe – call your pediatrician’s office to find out what accommodations are made and procedures are in place. Make needed appointments.
    3. Yearly sports exams are still required for screening and development.
  2. Don’t send your kids to school if they are sick – take their temperature to screen them in the am before school. If the temp is 100.4 or greater the child should not go to school.  Before school screening by school may not be possible based on size of student population.
  3. Testing is not feasible prior to the start of school in most locations and is not known to reduce the likelihood of spread in schools.
  4. Practice wearing a mask before school starts
  5. Be flexible and communicate with kids and teachers. Teachers and schools will need to be flexible in adjusting policies as needed.
  6. Your kids will follow your lead – stay positive and help teach perseverance and resilience

Social distancing, mask use
How to effectively observe social distancing and wear cloth face coverings is addressed in the guidance, which examines factors such as students' ages, developmental stages and special considerations. 

"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," according to the guidance. 

Schools should weigh the pros and cons of enforcing 6 feet of distancing. If it is not feasible without limiting the number of students, other risk-mitigation strategies may be more favorable. 

High- and low-priority strategies are provided for distancing and cloth face coverings by age. High-priority strategies include the following: 

During the school day, students also must navigate physical distancing in enclosed spaces, such as buses, hallways, playgrounds, and cafeterias. Other distancing measures include:

Other considerations

In addition to having plans in place to keep students safe, there are other factors that school communities need to address:

Sources: 

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/Is-it-safe-to-send-my-child-to-child-care-during-COVID-19.aspx

 

https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

Author
Alison Heffernan, MD Board Certified Pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

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