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GETTING BACK TO SCHOOL SAFELY

As school districts decide how to provide safe and effective learning for students during the pandemic, parents may have many questions about next steps and when it will be safe for children to go back to the classroom.

While we don’t have all of the answers to your questions, scientists are learning more about the coronavirus and how it affects children. It’s also important to realize that state and county guidelines are based on the number of positive coronavirus infections, and these numbers change daily.

Whether your child is going to school via online learning or is stepping foot into a classroom, here are some things to consider:

Can children get sick with COVID-19?
The answer is yes. So far it appears that while most children tend to have milder illness than adults, up to 8.9% of children with COVID-19 have been hospitalized and 0.5% has died (as of August 6, 2020). This means children are not immune to this virus. Unfortunately, this information is not entirely accurate because not all states report their information and the definition of what age group is considered a “child” is different from state to state.

Is your child or are any of your family members at high risk for complications from COVID-19?
This includes people over 65 or those with underlying health conditions like heart disease, diabetes or immune system problems. Know your family’s risk for COVID-19.

Is your school or school district prepared with strategies to control the spread of COVID-19?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested the following practices: masks for teachers and older students, frequent hand washing, decreased class size, desks separated 3-6 feet, use of outdoor space when possible, regular sanitation of frequently touched surfaces, and keeping students together in cohorts with lunch at their desks and teachers moving from class to class if needed. Some schools may go a step further and add a screening process.

What if your child gets sick or exposed at school?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends staying home for 10 days after the start of symptoms. Your child can go back to school once they are past the 10 days, symptoms have improved and they are fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication. The CDC also recommends anyone exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to isolate at home for 14 days after their last exposure. Learn more about significant exposure and how it can affect your child and family. Don’t forget to check with your school for their guidelines and policies.

What is the benefit of staggered schedules?
In order to reduce class size and keep students in small groups, staggered schedules may be a good option. This means that the student body will be split into groups that will rotate between on campus learning and remote learning. If a student gets sick, they will have exposed a smaller group of their classmates and only this group needs to quarantine at home. Check to make sure your school will deep clean the desks and classrooms being used by the rotating groups of students.

How can I help my child with distance learning?
As many school districts expand “school from home” options, prepare your family now for school-like schedules and routines. Try to maintain a routine that includes the same wake up time, blocks of time for online work and homework, healthy snacks and meals, and exercise. Have an area set up where they can be online and learn with minimal distractions. If you feel overwhelmed with online learning, get as much information as you can from your school and ask for help.

Does your child need special services from their school, and do you know how to access them?
Many children were not able to get services in the spring as schools closed. Contact your school now to find out how your child will receive their special education services whether the campus is open or not.

Some schools are asking parents for a letter from their child’s pediatrician stating they are in good health. They also want confirmation that your child has not tested positive for COVID-19, or was exposed to the virus. How can you get a letter from your CPCMG pediatrician?
At this time, in accordance with CDC guidelines, CPCMG is not providing “clearance letters” due to the uncertainty of COVID and its transmissibility. We are continuing to monitor the situation as more information becomes available about COVID-19 and may adjust this policy in the future.

As always, please contact your CPCMG pediatrician if you have questions.