Many parts of the world including the US is planning to re-open the schools within this week. It has opened a new debate on whether or not it is safe to open schools right now and should parents send their kids to school knowing that coronavirus pandemic is not over yet?
There are many factors that need attention. For example; how well the local healthcare units are interacting and working for public safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) implies the role of health authorities in opening the schools again.
It has published a new guideline that signifies some essential factors such as following a safe distance in a classroom or playground inside a school. It also tells how to know when it is NO safer to continue the schools if the second wave of coronavirus rises.
Dr. Nathaniel Beers, a certified pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council of School Health. On this new situation of re-opening of schools, he comments;
“From a health perspective, the health of kids and the health of staff has to be thought through before schools reopen. But the reality is that not having schools open decreases the ability of parents to return to work. Kids are missing out on education, but schools also provide much more than just education.”
He also says that there is no doubt that school is essentially important for any child’s growth and development. On top of that, many of these underprivileged kids rely on school lunch and meals, and not opening the schools mean they are suffering the most.
In addition to these, children with special educational requirements, occupational therapy, and speech therapy also need a real school for learning. The option of homeschooling doesn’t work well for them without an expert’s supervision and behavioral health support.
Lily Eskelsen Garcia is the president of the National Education Association (NEA). She highlights that this decision of reopening or closing the school could have its own repercussions as well. For example, while teachers have access to the internet and computers for conducting online learning sessions, it is possible that not all students have this same facility. For some of them, access to the internet and computers is a ‘privilege’. For a meaningful learning experience, allowing to re-open the schools and start educating these kids again, feed them with meals, and provide all learning facilities including the therapy and the internet.
But above all this, teachers would not agree to open the schools if there is any slight risk of coronavirus for children during this pandemic. It is hard to predict the effects of coronavirus on children’s health. There is still a lot that is unknown on whether or not this virus affects kids and how severe it could be if a kid is infected. There are many recent studies that predict that children are not at a high risk of coronavirus like adults and this infection is much milder in them. But it is not necessary to be true for every child in every part of the world.
Along with this report, there is news circulating saying that children are reportedly caught by a mysterious inflammatory disease which is somehow linked with coronavirus. There are nearly 38 confirmed cases of this disease in New York alone and many others are under suspicion.
This disease looks like other childhood diseases namely Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. But somehow, they are different from these as well. There are two reported deaths by this disease so far. And with this news, the decision to re-open the schools during the coronavirus pandemic has got much more heat than before.
Children with even mild symptoms of coronavirus could also transmit to others, however, it is not proven by research if they are capable of doing it or not. AAP has issued all issues that need attention before making a decision to re-open the schools. Some of them are;
- Testing availability
- Contact tracing facility
- Implementation of the prevention and control measures
- Availability of testing kits and cleaning agents
- Changes as per academic levels
- Intermittent school closing proposal
- Revision of school hours
- Local health officials to keep a check
- Identifying high-risk cases
- Plans for sports, gym and other extra-curricular