COVID-19's Impact on Education

Pediatricians Say Kids Better Off in School — When It's Safe Again

The American Academy of Pediatrics joined with three education organizations to weigh in on the conversation regarding the return to school. Their perspective: Yes, children learn best when they're in the classroom; but only when it's safe to do so.

Along with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the School Superintendents Association (AASA), the AAP confirmed that "children learn best when physically present in the classroom." Besides the instruction they receive, there are other advantages: "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."

While a return to school "is important for the healthy development and well-being of children," the organizations noted, reopening must be done "in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff." Decisions needed to be 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 has, of course, come in response to recent declarations from the Trump administration that school campuses should reopen in the fall or face the prospect of losing federal aid. As experts quickly pointed out, funding of schools is a decision controlled by Congress, not the President. And overall, the feds provide about eight percent of education funding in America; the rest is made up of a combination of state and local sources.

Besides, the organizations that issued the statement noted, using a "one-size-fits-all approach" won't work. "Local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents must be at the center of decisions about how and when to reopen schools, taking into account the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and the capacities of school districts to adapt safety protocols to make in-person learning safe and feasible."

The signatories urged Congress and the administration to provide federal resources for schools to help them "safely" educate and care for children.

The full statement is available on the AAP website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.