Parents around the world are naturally scared for the safety of their kids. Amid the pandemic, most schools are encouraging home-schooling and online classes for students, so as to keep them safe. In India, it was recently reported that parents have been signing petitions, urging the government to keep schools from opening.
But, it seems that even as parents intend to wait it out, a section of paediatricians is keen on making kids get back to school at the earliest. It has been reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a report that recommended students physically attend schools, as opposed to continuing remote learning online. As part of its extensive guidelines on the same, it stated: “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.”
“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,” it further said.
The AAP further stated that policy makers consider the mounting evidence regarding COVID-19 in children and adolescents, “including the role they may play in transmission of the infection”. “SARS-CoV-2 appears to behave differently in children and adolescents than other common respiratory viruses, such as influenza, on which much of the current guidance regarding school closures is based. Although children and adolescents play a major role in amplifying influenza outbreaks, to date, this does not appear to be the case with SARS-CoV-2,” it said in the guidelines.
The AAP recommended that in its re-entry policies, schools should “develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and throughout the community, and done with close communication with state and/or local public health authorities and recognising the differences between school districts, including urban, suburban, and rural districts.”
The policies should include standard protocols of handwashing, disinfecting, use of outdoor space when possible, and the formation of small student groups, also known as ‘cohorting’, the AAP stated.
In May, a survey had revealed that almost 92 per cent of Indian parents are unwilling to send their children back to school immediately upon reopening, because they want to be absolutely sure that the COVID situation is completely under control before risking sending their children back to school.
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