DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Back in school whenever possible.
That’s the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics in new guidance about back-to-school.
The organization is strongly advocating that children be in the classroom come fall. And, according to recently-published guidance and pediatrician Nicole Corrigan-Garrett, it’s for more than just educational reasons.
“We have more benefits of our children going to school for social, emotional and academic stability than staying home,” said Dr. Corrigan-Garrett, who practices at Pediatric Associates of Dallas. “We know that kids tend to be less symptomatic when they have Covid, and a lot of them are asymptomatic completely, and the early data is showing they’re less contagious because of that.”
The guidance says there is already evidence of the negative impacts of remote learning this spring, including social isolation, depression, abuse, lack of food security and lack of physical activity.
While it all could change, right now the organization recommends physical distancing for students of at least three feet.
“The guideline of, if we get at least three feet, the chances that it helps some is there. So they kind of give this gray area of three to six feet. Six feet is the gold standard” said Dr. Corrigan-Garrett.
Also, facial coverings for all middle and high school students and all teachers but not necessarily for pre-K and younger elementary students.
“We know that it’s going to be hard to keep our little ones in masks all day, so we know that the mitigation factors are going to be more important,” she said.
The guidance also encourages use of outdoor space whenever possible, since outdoor transmission rates are much lower. It encourages not only outdoor academic classes but also music, PE, and lunch.
Other highlights include one-way hallways, no lockers, and keeping classes together throughout the day to avoid crossover.
“If you’re in a classroom with the same kids all day then they should stay together all day, rather than going to a big music room and exposing the rest of the 2nd grade together,” she said.
But the most important suggestions may be adaptability and flexibility, knowing what’s advisable today may be different tomorrow.
“Today we really think it’s important and that the benefits of going to school are really important, but we need to be flexible.”