Back to School: What to Do?

7/22/2020

Coronavirus has brought many stressful decisions into our lives. “Should I send my child to school or keep them at home?” might be the most anxiety-inducing one for parents so far. As physicians, we are taught to look at the entire patient. With this approach in mind, we must look at much more than a child’s physical health. Aspects of mental health, social health, educational health must all be considered as you decide for your child and family. No decision is without risk, and no one knows your child better that YOU. But how do you decide?

The American Academy of Pediatrics, in conjunction with numerous teacher and superintendent associations, recently released a statement supporting children returning to in person learning. “Educators and pediatricians share the goal of children safely returning to school this fall.” Furthermore, “we recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online.” Below are some points to consider when making the decision to send children into the classroom.


School

  • What are the school’s plans? Do these plans fit with your family’s views?
  • Does the school have the capacity to adopt safety protocols?
  • Is the school taking into account the amount of disease activity in the community?


Medical

  • We know that healthy children are mostly spared the severe symptoms of coronavirus, but does your child have higher risk chronic medical conditions?
  • Does someone in your immediate family have chronic disease or a compromised immune system?
  • Consider the age of your child. We are learning that those over age 10 may spread disease easier, more like adults do.


Educational

  • Schools will certainly do better with online education than they did last spring, but how did your child do with virtual learning?
  • Does your child receive in-school support from an IEP or 504 Plan?
  • Have you thought through your home school options? Ohio is a home school friendly state and has a myriad of resources.


Social and Emotional

  • This is maybe the most complex and individualized.
  • Does your child struggle with school-related anxieties and virtual learning was a relief?
  • Does your child thrive with the daily structure that a school day brings?


Childcare and Financial Considerations

  • If a child has to learn at home, who will be there? Not every parent can work from home.
  • Does school provide free or reduced cost lunch for your child?


This list is far from complete, but hopefully can provide a few thoughts for you to consider when making this choice. Below is a list of online resources and data that we use to help us, as physicians, make recommendations to you. 

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