On July 19, 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provided it latest guidance on re-opening schools. The guidance states that everything possible must be done to keep students in schools in-person. During periods of closure, many families did not have adequate support with regard to educational services, and educational disparities were exacerbated, negatively affecting children who are English language learners, children with disabilities, children living in poverty, and children who are Black, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native. Thus, the AAP strongly recommends that school districts promote racial/ethnic and social justice by promoting the well-being of all children in any school COVID-19 plan, with a specific focus on ensuring equitable access to educational supports for children living in under-resourced communities.
The AAP also maintains that it is critical to use science and data to guide decisions about the pandemic and school COVID-19 plans an the implementation of several coordinated interventions can greatly reduce risk, which include:
The AAP also maintains that it is critical to use science and data to guide decisions about the pandemic and school COVID-19 plans an the implementation of several coordinated interventions can greatly reduce risk, which include but are not limited to:
- All eligible individuals should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
- All students older than 2 years and all school staff should wear face masks at school (unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use).
- An added benefit of universal masking is protection of students and staff against other respiratory illnesses that would take time away from school.
- Adequate and timely COVID-19 testing resources must be available and accessible.
With the above principles in mind, the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for school COVID-19 plans should start with a goal of keeping students safe and physically present in school.
The AAP also advises that people visit the CDC COVID-19 Prevention Strategies for additional information on mitigation measures including physical distancing, testing, contact tracing, ventilation, and cleaning and disinfecting. In fact, AAP advises that there are several other documents released by the CDC, the National Association of School Nurses, and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that can be referenced as well. For all of these, engagement of the entire school community, including families, teachers, and staff, regarding these measures should be a priority.
To access the AAP COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools in its entirety, click here.