Statement on Return to School Fall 2020
We recognize the burden families are facing regarding returning to school this fall. There are many factors that ultimately go into these decisions. At times, it may feel like there is not a right choice. We all want what is best for our children, families, and communities, and that may look different for each of us. As school systems are releasing their plans, many are having to make the initial choice of virtual or physical school setting. A majority of our patients reside in Knox County, so we have included a link to their District Guide for Reopening. https://www.knoxschools.org/connect
On July 10, 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in conjunction with education associations, including the National Education Association (NEA), released a joint statement on the safe return to school. (See the statement here.) Together, they have stated the end goal is a physical return of students and staff to school. This goal may only be realized through cooperation of educators, parents, caregivers, children, and the community as a whole. School will not be the same as it was before; there will be many, many changes. The AAP also detailed guidance for school re-entry. (Covid-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry) Schools will likely be implementing these or similar changes. If returning to in-person school, adhering to the guidelines will go a long way to success and keeping all safe.
SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19), is a novel virus. This means it is a newly identified infection in humans, and therefore, we have limited data on how it behaves. Of course, we know more now than we did a few months ago at the start of this pandemic, but there is still so much to learn. Guidance is based on most recent scientific data and will continue to evolve as we learn more.
Perhaps, you are struggling with the decision to go virtual/online. How we wish there was an easy answer! There are many factors to consider such as social, intellectual, and mental development, childcare, and financial burden. This may be the preferred method for children that are immuno-compromised, have close contact with others who are immuno-compromised or high risk, or are in close contact with others who may be at increased risk of contracting coronavirus. For some, the risks of returning to school outweigh the benefits. In these instances, if online school is feasible for your family, we encourage you to do so.
Whether you chose to send your child to school or keep them home and do it online, we will be here to take care of your children. We cannot make this decision for you but will support whatever decision you make. We want all our families to have a safe and fun start to the new school year.
Dr. Stephanie Shults
Dr. Gurpreet Bullen
Sarah Jones, C-PNP