Anyone who has questions, concerns, or even comments about returning to school during the pandemic invariably gets met with, well the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks children should return to school. Spoiler alert, we all do and the academy was reckless when they buried the lead.
The Academy did the nation’s schools a disservice when they weighed in on the return to school debate, not because they think kids should, again we all do, but they let that be the entire message when they really said a lot more.
From the American Academy of Pediatrics,
- School policies must be flexible and nimble in responding to new information, and administrators must be willing to refine approaches when specific policies are not working.
- It is critically important to develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and throughout the community and done with close communication with state and/or local public health authorities and recognizing the differences between school districts, including urban, suburban, and rural districts.
- Policies should be practical, feasible, and appropriate for child and adolescent’s developmental stage.
- Special considerations and accommodations to account for the diversity of youth should be made, especially for our vulnerable 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. These policies should be consistently communicated in languages other than English, if needed, based on the languages spoken in the community, to avoid marginalization of parents/guardians who are of limited English proficiency or do not speak English at all.
That is a lot, isn’t it? Notice how the vast majority of it is about keeping kids safe and not about how they should return to school?
Look I get it, we all want to be back, we all think kids being back is the best thing, even us non-pediatric dollars, but more important than them getting back is them being safe and healthy and that is the overall message the Academy has given, and not just, kids should be back in school.
So if somebody says that to you, let them know, that yes they did, but only if schools can be safe, because that is an important part of the message that most people are leaving out.
The academy should clarify, and clarify quickly before one part of what they said is taken out of context and used to put teachers and students in danger.