A big question parents have right now is how students can go back to school safely during COVID-19. The latest American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advice says children learn best when they are in school. However, returning to school in person needs careful steps in place to keep students and staff safe.
Ideally, local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents can work together to decide how and when to reopen schools. These decisions will need to take into account the spread of COVID-19 in the community, as well as whether schools are able to make in-person learning safe. Schools and families should also prepare to go back to virtual learning if COVID cases increase in the community.
Why students should go back to school–safely
The AAP guidance is based on what pediatricians and infectious disease specialists know about COVID-19 and kids. Evidence so far suggests that children and adolescents are less likely to have symptoms or severe disease from infection. They also appear less likely to become infected or spread the virus.
Schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents. In addition to reading, writing and math, children learn social and emotional skills, get exercise and access to mental health support and other things that cannot be provided with online learning. For many families, school is where kids get healthy meals, access to the internet, and other vital services.