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. – As states grapple with the safe way to start the next school year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is pushing for students, for their well-being, to be physically present in classrooms instead to continue in distance learning.
The group, which represents and guides pediatricians across the country, updated its back-to-school recommendations to say that the evidence shows that the academic, mental, and physical benefits of in-person learning outweigh the risks of the new coronavirus.
“The AAP strongly recommends that all policy considerations for the upcoming school year begin with the goal of having students physically present at school,” the group said on its website.
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“The importance of in-person learning is well documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children due to the closing of schools in the spring of 2020. Prolonged time out of school and the associated disruption of support services They often result in social problems of isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address significant learning deficits, such as physical or sexual abuse of children and adolescents, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. ”
Schools are probably not greatly amplifying the spread of the new coronavirus, and children are less likely to become seriously ill from the virus than adults, the US Academy of Pediatrics added.
While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of the virus spreading, the AAP listed specific recommendations based on different grade levels.
For example, pre-kindergarten schools should focus on hand hygiene, organize classes to minimize crossing between children and adults, and use outdoor spaces when possible. Facial covers or physical distancing are of lower priority since these strategies may be more difficult to implement in younger children.
But in middle and high schools, universal face coatings should be required when a distance of two meters cannot be maintained and desks should be placed at a distance of 1 to 2 meters.
The AAP’s recommendations come as states across the country unveil plans for the 56 million children in the United States to return to school in the fall.
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Earlier this month, Virginia state officials announced a hybrid, phased approach to reopen elementary and secondary schools, which would have stringent measures of social distancing, which may require “alternative schedules that combine in-person learning already distance for students, ”according to a press release.
Connecticut also announced that schools should plan to reopen for all students in the fall. Schools must work to maximize social distancing, including reconfiguring desks to maximize distance, frequent handwashing and the need to cover the faces of students and staff, said Miguel Cardona, commissioner of the state Department of Education , at a press conference last week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also suggested that it is generally not necessary to keep schools closed.
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“In some situations there will be no problem getting children back to school,” Fauci told CNN earlier this month. “In others, you may need to make some modifications. You know, the modifications could be disrupting class so you don’t have a crowded classroom, maybe half in the morning, half in the afternoon, with kids making alternate schedules. ”
The coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of slowing down in the United States.
Thirty-one states saw an increase in new infections, last week, compared to the previous week, mainly in the south and west. A further 15 states remained stable compared to the previous week, and only four states — Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island — saw a decline in cases.
– CNN’s Maggie Fox, Annie Grayer, Christina Maxouris, Eric Levenson and Elizabeth Hartfield contributed to this report.