A national organization of pediatricians is calling for the safe return of children to their classrooms next academic year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warned that extended absence from traditional school environments can produce long-term academic and emotional damage.
“The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” the group said in a statement released June 25. “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”
The organization said isolation can produce a range of psychological problems and that separation from school denies kids critical services provided by staffers.
The group stressed that low-income children are at heightened risk and suffer the most from school severance.
The AAP also cited evidence that coronavirus transmission among kids is rare and that COVID-19 precautions are meant to contain rather than eliminate risk.
“Policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families, and the community by keeping children at home,” the statement read.
While it called for COVID precautions in schools, the AAP said in-person classes should take precedence over strict social distancing.
“Schools should weigh the benefits of strict adherence to a 6-feet spacing rule between students with the potential downside if remote learning is the only alternative,” the group said.