KCUR: The Science Says Kansas City Area Schools Should Reopen
By Elle Moxley
Most Kansas City area students whose families picked in-person learning this year are now back in school a few days a week.
And though there have been cases in schools that have required other students and teachers to quarantine, few have turned into superspreader events.
“I was one that did not believe we needed to close the schools back in the spring,” Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department said. “I didn’t see evidence that the disease was spreading from those school-age populations to other populations.”
Pediatricians tried to make the case for in-person school this summer. But there was pushback from parents and teachers who didn’t believe having students in classrooms this year was safe under any circumstances, not with coronavirus cases going up. The American Academy of Pediatrics ended up walking back its guidance that in-person learning should be every district’s goal this fall.
As a result, many districts in the Kansas City area started the school year either fully or partially remote.
Dr. Jennifer Schuster is a pediatric infectious disease expert at Children’s Mercy. For the last several months, she’s been working with school systems that have chosen to provide in-person learning.
“What we’re hearing from them is that the risk mitigation strategies are working,” Schuster said. “Universal masking of both students and staff, physical distancing where able, then hand hygiene and increased cleaning. They’re the same strategies we’ve been recommending for adults for months now.”
They’re also the same strategies that allowed child care facilities to continue operating in the spring even when schools were closed.
Schuster said children actually tend to be more compliant than adults when it comes to wearing masks.
“And I think every child now knows to sing the happy birthday song while they wash their hands,” she added.
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Learn more about Returning to School and Community Safely from Children's Mercy