MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- It’s less than a month away from kids going back to school. As time ticks on, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding this school year.
Should students return to the classroom and if so how can parents be sure, they’ll be safe from COVID-19? It’s a complicated question with possibly an even more complicated answer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said kids need in-class learning. Mobile pediatrician Dr. Norma Mobley agreed and said it has to be done very carefully.
Dr. Mobley said, “We are testing probably 50-60 per week, at least right now.”
She’s talking about a rise in kids with the virus. As coronavirus cases continue an upward trend, the number of children catching the virus also increased.
Dr. Mobley said, “Last week, I had to call parents back, and every patient I tested was positive except for two, and many did not have symptoms, but they did have a history of household contact, meaning their parent or grandparent was diagnosed with the infection."
That's unsettling news if you’re a parent preparing to send your kids to school next month, but the American Academy of Pediatrics said parents should send them because “there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation."
Dr. Mobley said, “We are in agreement that it is best for children to learn in the actual classroom setting for a number of reasons. We’re worried some children are missing out from virtual learning, some children don’t have access to internet. Some children need to be at school to make sure they’re getting adequate nutrition.”
The AAP and a new commentary in the Journal of Pediatrics also said, “…children infrequently transmit COVID-19 to each other or to adults and that many schools, provided they follow appropriate social distancing guidelines and take into account rates of transmission in their community, can and should reopen in the fall” and while there are outbreaks of the virus in some states, it’s unlikely that children are driving the surge.
“I feel like there’s still information being gathered on that. Based on what we know now, yes that is the case, but i believe we’re still gathering data on that to be certain,” Dr. Mobley said.
If Dr. Mobley’s son was still school age, she said she would send him back. Like a lot of essential workers, she wouldn’t really have a choice.
She said, “I would, however, feel most comfortable if I knew there were some safety measures guaranteed to be in place like they had a definite way of making sure there was going to be social distancing. Ways to ensure that everyone is wearing a face covering also ways of ensuring they had hand washing stations. Some schools have ways and means to implement those measures and some do not.”
FOX10 News is waiting to hear what the back-to-school plans are for Mobile County. Baldwin County laid out its plans last week, which include thermal cameras to check students temperatures.