TAMPA, Fla. — There's nothing like the smell of fresh school supplies and the sound of lockers shutting in the hallway in the fall.
While there are still questions about what going back to school will look like for many students during the coronavirus pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics says it supports in-person classes for the 2020-2021 school year.
The organization that represents about 67,000 pediatricians has come out with its own recommendations and guidelines for schools working on plans to keep kids safe this fall.
An online statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics says it "strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school."
It says part of that reason is that time away from school can create social isolation, making it hard for schools to identify issues children are experiencing, like physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse and depression.
Besides students' education being impacted by not being in class in person, the American Academy of Pediatrics says there's an impact on their food security and physical activity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests staggering when students are dropped off and picked up, doing the drop-offs and pick-ups outside, keeping parents out of the buildings and putting in physical barriers in places where social distancing guidelines can't be followed.
Some of the re-entry policies recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics are:
- Encourage alternative modes of transportation for students who have other options besides bussing
- Assigned seating that keeps the same students near each other each day
- One-way hallways
- Separate lunch periods to minimize the number of students in cafeterias at one time
- Utilize outdoor spaces for meals
The American Academy of Pediatrics also has recommendations for schools based on age: Pre-K, elementary schools, secondary schools and special education.
You can find more from the American Academy of Pediatrics here.
School districts across Tampa Bay are presenting their plans to school boards as they prepare to reopen to students in August.
In many of these reopening plans, there are choices for parents. Some districts will allow parents to choose to keep their children home and enroll in virtual or e-learning.
You can find out what your school district's plans are here.
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