Now that we are well into July, parents are starting to wonder if they are going to be able to send their little ones back to school come fall. If President Trump has anything to say about it, every effort is going to be made. While there are some communities where these efforts cannot take place because the spread has advanced too far, there are places where children should be able to resume their normal schooling.
Anthony Fauci concurs. The cost of keeping schools shut down come fall is a high one. Children cannot afford to lose a valuable year of development. They will be left to play catch up for years to come if this happens. Parents who are unable to stay home with their children all day will have to figure out a contingency plan, too.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has weighed in on the matter and they believe that children should be in school once fall rolls around. From the looks of it, everyone seems to be in agreement that the children need to be back in school. While it is understandable for parents to be worried about sending their children to school again, we are sure that schools will be taking the necessary precautions.
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. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.
Children who are not in school are more likely to experience the issues that are associated with social isolation. Schools are unable to diagnose learning deficits that are taking place with their students, either. Parents are already doing their best to moonlight as teachers but certain problems are too difficult to handle.
Parents should not be left out of their depth for much longer. Children have been home since March and it is easy to see why parents are looking for some sort of respite from the constant responsibility. Substance abuse, depression and sexual abuse are also more likely to take place when children are not gathering at school each day.
Other countries have already been dealing with these problems and they are doing their absolute best. Now that we have some additional data to work with, parents can have their fears assuaged. After all, no parent wants to be the one to send their little ones into a school setting that will cause them to become infected. Once they return home, the entire family is in danger.
When Science looked at reopening strategies from South Africa to Finland to Israel, some encouraging patterns emerged. Together, they suggest a combination of keeping student groups small and requiring masks and some social distancing helps keep schools and communities safe, and that younger children rarely spread the virus to one another or bring it home.
“Outbreaks in schools are inevitable,” says Otto Helve, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. “But there is good news.” So far, with some changes to schools’ daily routines, he says, the benefits of attending school seem to outweigh the risks—at least where community infection rates are low and officials are standing by to identify and isolate cases and close contacts…
In a broader study of COVID-19 clusters worldwide, epidemiologist Gwen Knight at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and her colleagues collected data before most school closings took effect. If schools were a major driver of viral spread, she says, “We would have expected to find more clusters linked to schools. That’s not what we found.” Still, she adds, without widespread testing of young people, who often don’t have symptoms, it’s hard to know for sure what role schools might play.
For those who have older relatives living with them, this can be especially problematic. Israel, Finland and South Africa have been able to return to a semblance of normalcy and their early returns are encouraging. If class sizes are kept as small as possible, this is a great start. Masks need to be required as well. Social distancing guidelines also need to be followed, even when kids are in school.
“Outbreaks in schools are inevitable,” said Otto Helve. He works with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. As a pediatric infectious disease specialist, he is trying his best to offer up some good news to concerned parents. He claims that the opening of schools is risky but that the benefits outweigh all of the potential issues.
I'm not sure Trump has fully thought this through. Assume he succeeds in pressuring schools to reopen in the fall.
Fall is also known as "just in time for a new wave of infection to totally fuck up the election." He's banking an awful lot on the idea that reopening is harmless. https://t.co/XhyY83Ie0u
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) July 7, 2020
Most parents who are desperate for some uplifting news are going to agree. When COVID-19 clusters around the world were studied, schools were not among the most problematic areas. Trump is taking a major political risk by backing this idea, though. If he plays a major role in sending children back to school and outbreaks start to take place, this is going to do major damage to his chances of being re-elected.
His polling numbers took a beating after he was willing to make himself the public face of the “lets reopen now!” movement. Trump is not the type to be chastened. He is going to push for what he thinks is right, regardless of how anyone else thinks about it. This is a big gamble and for his sake, it had better pay off big time.
‘We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools,’ President Trump said, adding that some people wanted to keep schools closed for political reasons https://t.co/ywbsTs9OgL pic.twitter.com/KUSJrhg7M6
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 7, 2020