School districts and parents across the U-S are currently debating the safety of children returning to school this fall, and what form that might take. And there are differing responses everywhere. In Florida, public schools must reopen by state order, and will offer a five-day-a-week option. In Arizona, the governor pushed back opening by three weeks, and the date may slide yet again. In New York City, public schools will limit students, to one to three days a week.
Last Wednesday, The Sound of Ideas discussed Ohio's guidelines for schools, and while Governor DeWine prefers students return to the classroom, each of Ohio's 600-plus districts will ultimately determine its own schedule.
Making it difficult are the numbers. During the weekend, daily COVID-19 case in Ohio increased by about 2,900 to 65,592 cases overall, with more than 3,000 deaths. 12 counties, including Cuyahoga, Summit and Lorain, are in level three status making the wearing of masks in public mandatory.
President Trump has stated numerous times that he wants students to go back to school in the fall, despite what guidance comes from the Centers For Disease Control, including that schools encourage hygiene, stagger scheduling, mandate the use of cloth face coverings, and have students staying home when appropriate. Internal CDC documents warn full reopening of schools is "highest risk" for coronavirus spread,
But one major doctors group, the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a statement two weeks ago, echoed the president's preference.
The AAP strongly advocated that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school buildings rather than implementing remote learning. The group claimed there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children due to closures this spring, including social isolation, food insecurity, and learning deficits.
And, when children are left at home doctors say, it's easier to miss signs of physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.
On Friday, the AAP walked back the policy recommendations in a new statement along with several national educators groups.
It said "...we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff.... 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."
We've heard a lot about the health risks of reopening schools in the pandemic. On The Sound of Ideas, we're going to learn a bit more about the health risks of NOT going back to school for children, from a local pediatrician.
Then, we're in the middle of a heat wave in Northeast Ohio. We'll talk about how two vulnerable groups, children and the elderly, can stay safe.
And later, as backyard pool demand has skyrocketed during quarantine, we'll discuss pool safety, and how to recognize signs of drowning.
Dr. Richard So, M.D., Pediatrician, Cleveland Clinic Children's
Dr. Jerri Rose, M.D., Pediatric Emergency Physician, UH-Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital
Orion Bell, CEO and President, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging