Enlarge /. The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sally Goza (center) attends a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, students, teachers, and administrators to discuss how schools can be safely reopened during the novel Coronavirus pandemic in the East Room of the White House on July 7, 2020 can in Washington, DC.
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The American Academy of Pediatrics clarified its stance on reopening the school as part of the COVID-19 pandemic after the Trump administration repeatedly used the academy's previous statement to pressure school systems to resume personal learning in the fall to record.
In a joint statement with three major educational organizations, the AAP emphasized that the reopening of the school should be determined by science and security – "not by politics". It also responded directly to President Trump's threat to withhold funds from schools that didn't reopen, calling the move a "misguided approach."
The point was repeated on Monday by Michael Ryan, an infectious disease expert at the World Health Organization, who pleaded with the countries not to make the reopening of the school a "further political football".
"The best and safest way to reopen schools is through low community transmission, which has been effectively suppressed by a broad, comprehensive strategy," said Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergency Program, at a press conference.
While the role children play in the spread of COVID-19 is still poorly understood, Ryan found that schools are closely connected to communities. Countries cannot count on fighting the pandemic effectively by focusing on reopening school for a few weeks, then reopening work, then switching to health outbreaks, etc., he warned. That plays "blow to blow," said Ryan. Instead, countries should focus on comprehensive, long-term strategies that consider all contexts at the same time.
"We have to chew gum and run at the same time," he said. "And we have to make decisions based on the well-being of our children."
The Trump administration has been pushing for school reopening in recent days, although steady increases have been seen in some parts of the United States. Florida, for example, reported a record number of more than 15,000 cases on Sunday alone, the largest of all states since the pandemic began.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the US and other countries about an increase on Monday. "It is getting worse and worse," he said, unless people followed basic precautions against disease spread. That means physical distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, cough medicine labels and staying at home when you are sick.
Still, the Trump administration has seen school reopening as the key to reviving the economy and increased pressure on states to open physical classrooms this fall ahead of the elections. In its rationale, the administration often cited the June AAP preliminary guidelines, "strongly advocating that all political considerations for the coming school year should begin with the students physically present in the school." The academy found that schools offer children many benefits, such as “social and emotional skills, safety, dependable nutrition, physical / linguistic and mental health therapy, and opportunities for physical activity, among other things,” that go beyond academic education.
However, the AAP has always said that any return should be safe and that more investment in education is needed – all of which are highlighted in the new statement released on Friday.
Together with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA) and the AASA (School Superintendents Association), the AAP wrote: “Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must strive to reopen in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff. Science should drive decision-making for safe school reopening. Public health authorities have to make recommendations based on evidence, not politics. "
The groups called on Congress and administration to provide more resources for safe school reopening and warned that schools in areas with high prevalence in the COVID-19 community "should not be forced to reopen."