HMG Health Matters: Returning to class

HMG Health Matters

(WJHL)- School has begun for some districts in the region.  Almost all have chosen online classes, at least for the first few weeks of school.  

But, if schools open up, parents will have to wrestle with the choice of keeping their kids at home or sending them to school.

Holston Medical Group Pediatrician Dr. Sarah Smiddy-Youssef says everyone from parents to educators are faced with difficult decisions of going back to class.  

She says right now there is no perfect plan and no wrong decision.

“It’s just so uncertain, we can’t just make a perfect plan because the targets are moving all the time,” she says.

But there could be some lasting effects of at-home learning.

“The inequality that occurs when we don’t have in-person school becomes very wide,” Smiddy-Youssef says.  “There are some families who can provide everything they need for their child, and there are some families who can’t.  And that’s definitely true for social and emotional development, it’s true for food.”

Dr. Smiddy-Youssef cites a recent medical journal study that reads most children aren’t as physically affected by the virus as adults.

“They’re not as susceptible to the virus actually affecting their respiratory epithelium, and don’t seem to shed as much and give it to other people,” she says.

That is much different than the usual illnesses that seem to make their way home from schools.
“In terms of flu, we know kids give it to everyone. They get it, and they give it to everyone. They wipe it everywhere, we all get it from them, and so I think we think maybe all viruses are that way, because lots are,” she says.

So, if parents make the decision to send their child to school when they open, what can they do to keep their students safe? Smiddy-Youssef says wearing masks, cleaning surfaces, washing hands and social distancing will help immensely. These tough decisions may come with plenty of changes to the school environment, as well as some anxiety. Smiddy-Youssef says these feelings are normal, and children will often mirror their parents’ attitudes.
“I think kids roll with that a little bit better than we think they do,” she says.  “They’re pretty adaptable.”

Talk to your child’s pediatrician about the decision to send children to school, before the time comes for schools to open, to talk about any concerns you have.

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