Coronavirus Update:What patients and families need to know
Returning to School: Educational Concerns
School districts in our region are gradually announcing their plans for the fall. Primary care practices play an important role in preparing children and families for back-to-school and in supporting them throughout the school year.
Many children will be returning to virtual learning. Families may face multiple challenges with virtual learning. Virtual learning can pose hardships for families with the loss of full-time, in-person instruction for their children. In addition to academics, schools provide nutrition, physical activity, health care, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, mental health services and much more. With most schools offering virtual learning only, primary care practices will have the most opportunity for in-person contact with children and families this year.
- Alexandria, VA: Announcing plans August 12
- Anne Arundel County, MD: Virtual learning through at least December 2020
- Arlington County, VA: Virtual learning with plans to introduce some hybrid model of in-person learning in October
- District of Columbia: Announcing plans July 31
- District of Columbia Public Charter Schools: Each school developing their own plan, check the DCPCSB website for details
- Fairfax County, VA: Virtual learning through at least September/October
- Falls Church, VA: Families can choose virtual learning or hybrid model with two days of in-person instruction per week
- Howard County, MD: Virtual learning through at least January 2021
- Montgomery County, MD: Virtual learning through January 2021
- Prince George’s County, MD: Virtual learning through February 2021, parents will have the option to decide in December 2020 if they want in-person instruction for their child in 2021
The primary care provider has an important role to play in supporting families with school attendance and engagement. During visits with families, either via telehealth or in person, ask families what their plan is for engaging in virtual learning and if they need any assistance with obtaining internet connectivity or electronic devices. Discuss with families any challenges they had in engaging in virtual learning in the spring of 2020. Ask families about setting schedules for their children to develop daytime routines for virtual school attendance.
Ask families during your visit if they have access to the internet and/or electronic devices for virtual learning. Each school or school district has information on technology access on their webpage; consider having office team members be familiar with these points of contact to assist families with navigating technology access for virtual learning. School districts also have information on how families can obtain electronic devices for virtual learning.
Schools are required by law to continue to provide IEP and therapy services even through virtual learning. Primary care practices can help families connect with the special education specialist and/or IEP coordinator at each school. Primary care practices can refer families to the following resources if there are issues with a student receiving their IEP and/or other therapy services:
School districts serve large numbers of students who are English language learners (ELL). According to Education Week, “Under federal Title VI requirements, school districts are required to ensure that English-language learners can meaningfully participate in instruction.” Primary care practices should be prepared to refer families to their school or school district to ensure they are receiving their ELL instruction and services.
Primary care practices are a vital community resource for schools and families. Primary care providers and other team members can connect with local parent teacher associations and schools to assist with school re-opening plans, to identify what resources and supports schools are providing when in a virtual learning phase and to offer support.
Many colleges and universities have announced plans for the fall semester that offer an in-person option. Families should read the guidance from their college or university carefully and see what requirements are in place and what steps the institution is taking to keep students safe. For example, some institutions will require frequent COVID-19 testing for students on campus and may require students to self-quarantine prior to or upon arrival to the campus. Families should also review the institutional policies on deferments.
Returning to School: Health-Related Concerns
Primary care pediatricians have been – and will continue to be – on the front lines of care for children who are exposed to COVID-19. The pandemic has created a number of ancillary health concerns among the children we care for. We’ve compiled some topics to consider as you conduct well child visits.