Three international studies of school reopening’s suggest that schools do not drive coronavirus increases, and that childcare workers do not face greater risk. Anecdotal evidence from America also shows that states that have reopened schools have not seen dramatic growth in coronavirus case levels. NPR reports that this research and state-supplies information is encouraging many medical experts to weigh the risk of children not returning to school, as opposed to returning.
Many experts in educational and child development fields, and especially parents, worry about the physical and psychological ramifications of children staying home, away from friends and structure.
“As a pediatrician, I am really seeing the negative impacts of these school closures on children,” said Dr. Danielle Dooley, a medical director at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. She told NPR the risks are many, including “mental health problems, hunger, obesity due to inactivity, [and] missing routine medical care… on top of the loss of education.”
However, experts stress that schools must have steps in place to prevent coronavirus outbreaks, such as regular testing, contact tracing, and keeping all parents and staff informed of any cases in case they may need to quarantine.
New York City, which began the public school year with in-class in its 1,800 schools, has seen very few cases when it conducted random tests of thousands of students and staff. Of the 16,298 tests, only 28 people tested positive, the New York Times reported. If the city is able to keep schools open, students will be learning in a safe, structured environment while parents can return to work, which will boost the city’s struggling economy.