When schools across the United States halted in-person learning because of COVID-19 this spring, many of us never predicted that students would continue remote learning for the remainder of the school year. As school districts and teachers worked tirelessly to utilize all resources at their disposal, it became apparent that virtual learning was not an ideal education setting. From the lack of learning equity and access to critical services for many students to mental health impacts, many educators and pediatricians began talking about the importance of in-person learning resuming in some fashion for fall 2020.
Listen to pediatric experts discuss COVID-19 school reopening guidelines
In this episode, we delve into the return-to-school guidance that both Children’s Hospital Colorado and the American Academy of Pediatrics have released. Our providers also talk about how pediatricians can be advocates for the safe return to in-person learning in their communities.
Returning guest Sean O’Leary, MD, joins us in this podcast. Dr. O’Leary is an infectious disease physician at Children’s Colorado and Director of the Colorado Pediatric Practice-Based Research Network.
And, we are happy to welcome Heidi Baskfield, JD, to the podcast. Baskfield is a lawyer by training and the Vice President of Population Health and Advocacy at Children's Colorado.
In this episode, our experts discuss:
- Why our hospital weighed in on how kids should return to school safely
- The focus of guidance on risk mitigation versus risk elimination using low-cost, common sense risk reduction approaches
- The importance of school to a child’s overall health (access to food, well child checks, etc.)
- Multiple strategies for risk reduction categorized into tiers — from the most important risk mitigation practices schools can implement to other practices schools can implement to augment their efforts
- The essential actions in the first tier, such as hand hygiene, face coverings, physical distancing of at least 3 feet if 6 feet is not feasible and vaccinations (especially flu vaccines)
- The differences in risk among children of different ages
- The exclusion of class size from guidance because there is no evidence that limiting class size will help to contain the pandemic in schools; pod style learning may be best
- Rules for excluding kids with symptoms of COVID-19 from school and potential problems associated with exclusion
- The role of primary healthcare providers in giving guidance to schools on when children can return to school safely and possibly having to provide notes giving permission for a sick child to return to school
- The differences between the guidance provided by the CDC and AAP and the guidance provided by Children’s Colorado
- How children with complex medical needs and employees with chronic medical conditions should approach the return to school
Treatment of infectious diseases at Children’s Colorado
Our pediatric experts in the Infectious Disease Program at Children's Colorado provide a breadth of expertise ranging from laboratory-based research to the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. Pediatricians can treat many infectious diseases, but when unique or different symptoms are present, it’s important to refer to a pediatric specialist. We are prepared and ready to treat patients with suspected or confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus. Our clinical staff has been specially trained on how to identify, isolate and treat patients with this and other contagious illnesses.
Refer a patient to Children’s Colorado.