Professional associations said that “educators and pediatricians share the goal of children returning safely to school this fall,” in a joint statement released Friday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AASA, The School Superintendents Association.
They said they are committed to doing everything they can so that students have this opportunity.
“Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue reopening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff,” the groups said, while acknowledging that science should be used to drive the decision making.
They noted that decisions to reopen schools should include local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents, and they must take into account things including community spread of Covid-19 and the ability of schools to adapt safety protocols.
“For instance, in schools in areas with high levels of Covid-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgement of local experts,” the groups said in the statement. “A one-size-fits all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions.”
The statement listed a number of reasons beyond education why returning to school is beneficial to students. These include learning social and emotional skills, healthy meals, and exercise and mental health support.
The statement also called on Congress and the administration to provide federal resources that schools will need to reopen.
Reopening safely, they said, will require new investments in schools and campuses, and they need to “ensure that inadequate funding does not stand in the way of safely educating and caring for children in our schools.”
They describe withholding funds from schools that do not open for in-person learning full-time “misguided approach,” and state that it would put schools who do not have adequate resources in a position that would threaten the health of students and teachers.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta discusses school openings this fall: