Pediatricians weigh in as parents decide on back-to-school options

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 18:27:36-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Some parents have just days to figure out if their child will return to school or stick with e-Learning. Tampa Bay area pediatricians are weighing in to help parents make that decision a little easier.

“It’s challenging for everyone. There’s no easy answer to this,” said Dr. Joseph Perno, Chief Medical Officer at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Perno first suggests parents think about the health of your child, family members and your risk factors.

“The more the child goes out in public, the greater risk you are of contracting, even if you do everything right,” said Dr. Perno. “We know that’s a greater risk than staying at home.”

Dr. Perno says parents should know if their child can excel with at-home learning, and that parents should make sure they can make the time needed for it, too. He says parents should check with their schools to see what guidelines will be in place.

The American Academy of Pediatrics put out guidance with a goal of students “physically present” in school, but Dr. Perno reminds it also calls for schools having safeguards.

“Are we able to keep the children six feet apart? Are they able to put up possibly plexiglass between the children?” said Dr. Perno.

When asked if face-to-face learning can be safe during a pandemic, Dr. Perno thinks it can be, but says that it won’t be easy.

“If a classroom is made for 25 students, if you put in 12 students, you probably could space them out well enough. If you can get them to wear a mask and the teacher wear their mask,” said Perno. “Then maybe those kids are going Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the others are going the different days. We have to get creative. We have to reinvent and re-imagine what we’re doing.”

LIST: Deadlines for when Tampa Bay families must decide whether to send their kids to school