With the new coronavirus breaking into everyday life, families and school systems already had to deal with sudden distance education in the spring.
Now, with a month away from most school systems in the United States, and with some already underway, the dilemma remains: is it safe to send my child to school in person? What are the measures that a school should take to prevent contagion?
Many school systems are offering options: parents can choose whether their children will take classes in person or at distance. Or what is called a hybrid system, with two days in person and the rest of the week from home.
It is not a simple decision.
Families will decide the instructional format based on whether the student or household members are at increased risk of serious illness, the child’s academic needs, the level of spread of COVID-19 in the community, and the school’s ability to execute. guidelines recommended by public health authorities.
For many parents, the burden on their children’s mental health during distance learning and quarantine is a big factor to consider. Many prefer that their children regain a slice of normalcy by going to school, with their friends, and are willing to take risks.
We must also remember that the school is not just a desk and a teacher in front of the screen. School districts offer transportation, low-cost lunches and snacks, after-hours care, and after-school programs that help the most vulnerable families.
Economic and social fragility that has increased for millions of families with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of course, decisions will also depend on the age of the student. For example, for parents of children of preschool age or in their first grades of elementary school, concentrating in front of a screen has been a challenge.
Families with older children have dealt with unexpected anxiety attacks, generated by isolation at an age when socialization is a critical part of development.
This is why many are considering pods: bringing three or four friends together in a home to study together, sometimes with the help of a teacher or tutor.
To facilitate decision-making, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a list that parents or caregivers can review so as not to leave out any important aspects related to this decision. The following is a synthesis of that guide.
What is known about COVID and minors
Limited data on COVID-19 in children suggests they are less likely to develop the disease, and if they do get it, it will be less severe.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 in children include: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, body aches, and diarrhea; although many children may have little or no symptoms.
Children and adolescents in the United States represent 6.6% of cases, and 0.1% of deaths.
Although rare, deaths and rare diseases such as multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) can occur.
Evidence from other countries suggests that the majority of pediatric cases were the result of contracting the infection through a family member.
It is important for the family to inform themselves about COVID-19 cases in minors in their area.
Which children are most at risk for COVID-19
You’ve probably already talked to your child’s pediatrician, but it’s worth remembering thatSome may be at increased risk of contracting the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 or may be at increased risk of severe illness from COVID.
For these children, parents and caregivers may need to take extra precautions regarding reentry to school. There are more cases of COVID-19 reported among minors with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
People of any age, including children, with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for serious illness from COVID-19.
Additionally, children and adolescents who have neurological, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who suffer from congenital heart disease may also be at increased risk for complications from COVID., compared to other children.
A serious illness means they may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die.
What is the student’s family environment like
While there is no way to guarantee a zero risk of infection, it is important to understand the potential risks and how to take different types of preventive measures when resuming activities, including back to school.
Parents or guardians should consider whether other household members are at increased risk for serious illness from COVID-19 when making decisions about which activities to resume. For example, if the grandmother, grandfather, or other older adult relatives live under the same roof.
While minors may not develop COVID, they can transmit the coronavirus if they are infected.
Additionally, long-standing systemic health and social inequalities have put some groups at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 or experiencing serious illness, including some members of racial and ethnic minority groups, such as the Latino community, and individuals who do not. have home.
Evaluate what the school is proposing
You have to try to understand very well what your children’s school offers this fall.
If the school system has already decided that the instruction will be online, find out well about the class schedules, to know, for example, if there will be virtual periods such as during a normal day and what time they will start. Connect with teachers, and stay up-to-date by reading all emails related to the topic.
The pandemic is something we are experiencing now and decisions may change according to what is happening with the spread of the virus in your area.
If the instruction will be in person and you do not agree with your children returning to school in person, surely you can contact the school administration to discuss personal and family circumstances why you do not feel safe with classes in person .
If the system is mixed, you must think in the same way. The circumstances of each family are different.
And you should always make sure that the school complies with the recommended safety measures so that children and administrative and academic staff are safe.