Washington, D.C. – In the weeks ahead, educators and government officials at the state and local level will be making important decisions about when to safely reopen America’s schools.
“Our shared goal should be to have students physically present in school this fall if at all possible,” the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sally Goza, said at a White House summit today on Safely Reopening America’s Schools.
Dr. Goza: Missing school has lasting effects on children
President Donald Trump and his Administration know that schools are a crucial part of every American community. More than $13 billion from the President’s CARES Act is dedicated to helping schools navigate the extraordinary challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Today’s White House summit brought together health and education officials from across government and society, including Dr. Deborah Birx, Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Panels featured state and local leaders, healthcare professionals, school administrators, teachers, and parents.
First Lady Melania Trump—whose Be Best initiative focuses on improving child well-being—and Second Lady Karen Pence, a teacher, both joined the summit, as did President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
First Lady: Students “missing more than just time in the classroom”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, offered this statement urging local governments to reopen schools this fall: “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”
Long periods away from school, the AAP says, interrupts support services for children and often results in social isolation. These factors make it “difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation,” they add.
“This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk.”
Secretary Azar spoke on President Trump’s bold actions to both slow the spread of Coronavirus and get America back open for business. “Through this historic response to this unprecedented pandemic, we have the tools to get back to work, back to school, and back to healthcare,” he said.
Secretary Azar: We can get American children back to school
The CDC is encouraging schools to have plans in place that will help anticipate cases, minimize spread, and limit the need for school closures. Since every school is unique, each will require a different approach to safely welcome students back to the classroom.
Secretary DeVos said the Administration expects children to be back in their learning environments this fall—and urged decision-makers to think practically about the consequences if children do not return to the classroom this year.
Secretary DeVos: Different states may require different solutions
“We want to reopen the schools,” President Trump said. “Everybody wants it. The moms want it. The dads want it. The kids want it. It’s time to do it.” He added that America’s Coronavirus mortality rate is down tenfold from the peak of the crisis.
Now, as more states safely reopen under President Trump’s guidelines, local leaders must continue to put the critical needs of America’s children first.