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Coronavirus Update:What patients and families need to know

Public Health Guidelines for Returning to School

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released guidance for school re-entry on June 26, 2020. The goal of the guidance was to ensure school districts are considering all of the risks of children and adolescents not being in schools – not just the risks of spreading COVID-19. Schools provide much more than just instruction to students and all those services play a role in helping students develop healthily. The AAP also notes schools will need additional resources to re-open schools safely. This was emphasized in a joint statement released with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, on July 10, 2020.

There are several guiding principles that the AAP believes needs to be part of any plan to re-open schools:

  • School policies must be flexible and nimble in responding to new information.
  • Develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and community.
  • Policies should be practical, feasible and appropriate for child and adolescent developmental stages.
  • Special considerations and accommodations to account for the diversity of youth should be made, especially for our underserved populations, including:
    • those who are medically fragile
    • live in poverty
    • have developmental challenges
    • or have special health care needs or disabilities, with the goal of safe return to school.
  • No child or adolescents should be excluded from school unless required in order to adhere to local public health mandates or because of unique medical needs.
    • Pediatricians, families and schools should partner together to collaboratively identify and develop accommodations, when needed.
  • School policies should be guided by supporting the overall health and well-being of all children, adolescents, their families and their communities.