Due to stay-at-home orders, American students across the country have been missing out on crucial in-person instruction, and as schools consider reopening, it is important to look at the data to determine risks and precautions that will affect the transition into this new phase of the pandemic.
Jennifer L. Lighter, MD, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics and a pediatric epidemiologist at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, has been on the front lines of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, treating both children and young adults with acute COVID-19 and the associated multisystem inflammatory syndrome. In a recent op-ed in the New York Daily News, Dr. Lighter highlights the negative impact stay-at-home orders have had on America’s youth, and urges the need for a return to classrooms.
In addition to the toll school closures take on the quality of education, crucial social programs are channeled through the school systems such as lunch programs and counseling, and some students do not have internet access, further compounding the problem. The lack of social interaction with peers and educators has a significant impact on the mental development of children as well.
“The most common argument put forth against opening schools is that it poses serious risks to children, school staff, and members in students’ household,” says Dr. Lighter. “However, children are dramatically less likely than adults to get infected with this virus, to become sick if infected, and to spread the infection to others. For various molecular reasons most likely related to viral entry in the human cells, children simply get infected less often than adults.”
Teachers and adult staff would be most at risk for transmission, but measures like face masks, social distancing, and symptom screening are all proven to be effective in preventing transmissions.
Read more from the New York Daily News.