While the Lehigh Valley gears up for the 2020 school season to start, many parents are left with questions, concerns, and the fear of not knowing what the right decision is…Do we send our kids to school or do we keep them home? Do we have the option and can we make it work?
Nazareth and Northampton school districts have decided on a hybrid plan for the return of school in the fall. Each schools plan is extremely fluid and can be changed at any time. Both school districts are offering free online remote school options as well.
As parents, we, of course, have been given many recommendations, have received many opinions from doctors and teachers, friends and definitely from family, and everyone is an expert, but not. All of this makes the decision to send our kids back to school very challenging.
Here are some facts about COVID-19 regarding children that we know from the CDC:
- Children are less likely to get COVID-19 than adults.
- Generally, if they do get it, their symptoms are mild or they have no symptoms at all.
- 6.6 percent of reported COVID-19 cases and <0.1 percent of COVID-19 related deaths are among children and adolescents less than 18 years of age.
- While uncommon, deaths and rare illnesses such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome may occur, but it is rare. MIS is treatable.
- Evidence from other countries has suggested that most pediatric cases in children resulted from contact with family members.
- There are more cases reported among children with intellectual or developmental disabilities than without.
- People of any age, including children, who have underlying medical conditions are at high risk.
One thing that is discussed as, “very important,” for our children is socialization, but what does that look like for our young ones returning to the classroom? Could this, “new normal,” be more damaging to them socially then keeping them home?
Below is a list of precautions schools are taking to try to keep our children safe this fall semester. Some schools have adopted these precautions as a part of their safety plan, some have not. It is best to check with your child’s school for full details in regards to their plan.
- Plastic barriers between desks.
- Distanced desks.
- No cafeteria, children must eat at their desks.
- No library.
- No gym.
- No socializing in groups.
- No working in teams or together on projects.
- Masks must be worn all day and they must be plain, no characters or designs.
The CDC says that, “Schools provide important services and support for children’s academic, social-emotional, and physical health.” They also said, “School also provides critical services, such as school meal programs and behavioral and mental health services.”
The American Academy of Pediatricians believes that children need to go back to school and that schools should be open for many reasons. The AAP is working closely with educators to return children back to the classroom safely.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 30 million students participate in free or reduced-price lunches and more than 14 million participate in free or reduced priced breakfasts. That is 30 million children who rely on schools for at least one meal per day.
The New York Times reported that, “Child abuse cases dropped 51 percent in NY since the COVID-19 pandemic and authorities are very worried.” In other areas of the country, reports have dropped by over 62 percent due to a lack of reporting and NPR reported that there has been a rise in the number of minors contacting the National Sexual Assault Hotline to report child abuse according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. All of this is extremely concerning.
There are so many things to consider when making the decision to send your children back to school and clearly this is not a one size fits all situation. It is so important to protect our children because children are innocent, amazing, beautiful souls who brighten the world each and every day. It is our job as parents, neighbors, friends, teachers, to make sure we protect and teach them in all aspects of life and regardless of your decision, we need to make sure we are courteous to one another through this difficult time and the hard decisions we are all facing.
Always remember to love your littles a little bit more because the love you share with them, they will share with the world.