The group, which represents and guides pediatricians across the country, updated its back-to-school recommendations to say evidence shows the academic, mental and physical benefits of in-person learning outweigh the risks from the coronavirus.
“The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.”
Schools are probably not greatly amplifying the spread of coronavirus and children are less likely to become extremely sick from the virus than adults, the pediatrics group added.
While there’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of the virus’ spread, the AAP listed specific recommendations based on the different grade levels.
For example, Pre-Kindergarten schools should focus on hand hygiene, cohorting classes to minimize crossover among children and adults and utilizing outdoor spaces when possible. Face coverings or physical distancing are lower priority as those strategies may be harder to implement on younger children.
But in middle and high schools, universal face coverings should be required when a 6-foot distance is not able to be maintained and desks should be placed 3 to 6 feet apart.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also suggested that keeping schools closed in general isn’t necessary.
The coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of slowing in the US.
CNN’s Maggie Fox, Annie Grayer, Christina Maxouris, Eric Levenson and Elizabeth Hartfield contributed to this report.