The benefits of having children in classrooms “far outweigh” the risk of coronavirus, Fox News Medical contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat asserted Saturday.
In an interview on “Fox & Friends Weekend,” Nesheiwat told host Jedediah Bila that The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine was correct in urging the reopening of schools on Wednesday.
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“Opening schools will benefit families beyond providing education, including by supplying child care, school services, [and] meals…Without in-person instruction, schools risk children falling behind academically and exacerbating educational inequities,” they wrote in a release on Wednesday.
“This is a well-respected organization. And, I agree,” she said. “The benefits of having children in the classroom far outweigh the risk of coronavirus.”
“A study out of Britain shows that these children — under the age of 10, especially — are 1,000 times less likely to die from coronavirus than someone who is over the age of 65. So, we have to look at the data. Let’s look at the science and the facts,” Nesheiwat urged.
In addition, the family and emergency medicine specialist noted that classroom environments are critical learning environments for young children, allowing for “psychological growth and development.”
“And, you know, teachers – they’re more than just educators. You know, they are our children’s protectors. They’re like – their eyes when we’re not around,” she added.
The other thing to think about is a student’s home environment.
“The other issue is, you know, physically, emotionally, nutritionally, some children: their only hot meal might be at school. They may suffer from abuse, sadly, at home. So, there’s a lot more than just an education that they get at school,” Nesheiwat said. “And, [it’s] very important. I do agree, that we need to open, especially if there is an area of low prevalence of viral transmission.”
However, with the virus still very much prevalent in larger states like California and Texas, the decision to reopen is dependent upon specific communities.
That said, Nesheiwat pointed out that all schools should have a plan or protocol in place for both kids and adults.
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“It’s really difficult to have elementary school kids physical distance, but you do the best you can. Some of the most important things we can do are simple measures like hand-washing, disinfecting the classrooms routinely, do the best you can with spacing out the desks, try to conduct class outside, outdoors where there potentially may be a [lower] risk of transmission. You know, do temperature checks,” she advised. “Check on the children throughout the day. How are they feeling? Are they [exhibiting] normal behavior? Do they seem sluggish?”
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“So, you know, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. It depends on where you are, the age of the students. But, I think it’s definitely doable,” Nesheiwat stated. “We have seen it successfully happen in Germany, in Sweden. They have reopened successfully without a large outbreak in their schools.”
“So, it can be done; we just have to have a plan and protocol – a well-structured and organized plan in place,” she concluded.