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AAP, education groups stress the importance of safety in school reopening :

July 10, 2020

The AAP and national education groups are stressing the importance of safety considerations in reopening schools this fall and calling for federal funding of new protocols.

“Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools,” the AAP, American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, wrote in a joint statement Friday. “Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics. We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it.”

The statement comes on the heels of an appearance by AAP President Sara “Sally” H. Goza, M.D., FAAP, at a roundtable event at the White House Tuesday to discuss the Academy’s guidance to mitigate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 while reopening schools. These recommendations include physical distancing, cloth face coverings, hand hygiene and classroom disinfection.

The AAP and educators emphasized the importance of children returning to school.

“We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom,” they said. “But children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online. Schools also play a critical role in addressing racial and social inequity.”

But they added that each community will have to consider the local spread of COVID-19 and its ability to implement safety protocols to protect students, teachers and staff. The groups called on Congress and the Trump administration to provide districts with the resources to enact these measures and warned against withholding funding from schools that do not open for in-person learning.

“The pandemic has reminded so many what we have long understood: that educators are invaluable in children’s lives and that attending school in person offers children a wide array of health and educational benefits,” they wrote. “For our country to truly value children, elected leaders must come together to appropriately support schools in safely returning students to the classroom and reopening schools.”

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