COVID-19 Update:Learn where you can get your child vaccinated, as well as other important facts about COVID-19.
Returning to School: Educational Concerns
School districts in our region are preparing for in-person learning this 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.
For most children, the recommendation will be that they return to in-person learning. Returning to in-person learning has many benefits for students. 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.
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 if they have any concerns with their children returning to in-person learning. Discuss available resources to help ease their concerns and help them understand the benefits of returning to the classroom. Remind families that school attendance is important for long-term academic and health outcomes and identify any barriers to school attendance for families.
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.
Primary care practices can help families connect with the special education specialist and/or IEP coordinator at each school. Students may have had limited or no access to their therapies this past year, so it is critical for them to reconnect with services. 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 and to offer support.
Colleges and universities are prioritizing in-person learning. Families should read the guidance from their college or university carefully and see what requirements are in place, including COVID-19 vaccine mandates and what steps the institution is taking to keep students safe. For example, some institutions will require COVID vaccination or 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.