Let’s take another look at the statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It opens by stating, “Educators and pediatricians share the goal of children returning safely to school this fall.” The wording is important: the goal is a safe return to school. This is not a statement of unequivocal support for opening schools. In fact, the statement later says, “schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts. A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions.”
Unfortunately, this is the situation that we now find ourselves in. No one was more disappointed than I or my soon-to-be sixth-grader son to see that our schools will open with 100% distance learning. But with the current surge, there is good reason for this.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the AAP statement in its entirety (https://services.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2020/pediatricians-educators-and-superintendents-urge-a-safe-return-to-school-this-fall/) for it clearly articulates the many benefits, not purely the academic ones, of reopening our schools, and aptly calls for decision-making to be guided by science and community circumstances. Many, if not all, of us support the continued goal of safely re-opening schools.
To move toward that goal, I encourage us all to do what we can to limit community spread through social distancing and wearing of masks, support and communicate with our schools as they strive to find the best solutions in this inherently difficult circumstance, and to expect our leaders, locally to nationally, to make decisions based in science not politics. Call and write your representatives to ask for the increased funding our schools need to meet the new demands brought by COVID, and that the CDC should stand independent from the White House or other political influence in order to facilitate transparent communication of the evolving science regarding COVID-19.