Pediatricians say kids should be in school despite coronavirus risk

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Los Angeles County Office of Education Supt. Debra Duardo, left, and Glendale Unified Supt. Vivian Ekchian, right, are given a tour of Cerritos Elementary in Glendale by Principal Perla Chavez-Fritz on May 26.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County Office of Education Supt. Debra Duardo, left, and Glendale Unified Supt. Vivian Ekchian, right, are given a tour of Cerritos Elementary in Glendale by Principal Perla Chavez-Fritz on May 26.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The damage done by keeping children out of school might outweigh the risks of COVID-19 transmission, a regional organization of pediatricians said Tuesday, pushing back against educators who have cautioned against reopening campuses too soon.

The Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents about 1,500 doctors, issued a statement pointing to research suggesting that the risks of COVID-19 transmission among children are lower than for adults, but that keeping children away from in-person instruction for longer will have negative consequences.

“Prolonging a meaningful return to in-person education would result in hundreds of thousands of children in Los Angeles County being at risk for worsening academic, developmental and health outcomes,” the statement said. “Children rely on schools for multiple needs, including but not limited to education, nutrition, physical activity, socialization, and mental health. Special populations of students receive services for disabilities and other conditions that are virtually impossible to deliver online.”

While they acknowledged the county is too big for a single reopening plan, the doctors also took issue with some of the L.A. County Office of Education guidance issued last week about safely returning to schools. While the 45-page framework left many decisions up to schools, it recommended measures including face masks for students and teachers, children eating lunch at their desks and greater use of outdoor areas for teaching.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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