Pediatricians say it's OK for children to go back to school

Some local pediatricians are making it known how they feel about children going back to school this fall.

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Leslie Moreno
, WRAL multimedia journalist
RALEIGH, N.C. — Some local pediatricians are making it known how they feel about children going back to school this fall.

Just last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children be physically present in the classroom in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Pediatricians at Oberlin Road Pediatrics have been getting a lot of calls and and questions from concerned parents wondering whether it’s safe for their children to return to the classroom.

Dr. Beth Galla with Oberlin Road Pediatrics says, it’s important parents consider the health of their child and their family before making a decision. That includes their emotional, mental and physical well being.

“We want parents to feel like if the least amount of stress for their children or for them is in fact going to the classroom, then they should not fear that they are not putting their child, themselves or teachers at risk,” Galla said.

Galla also said a classroom experience offers many things online learning can't such as exercise, interaction with peers, access to healthy meals and mental health support.

“I do believe it’s going to benefit them more in the long run," Galla said.

"Of course, everyone is taking a risk no matter what decision you take,” said Frederick Ravin, a parent who has a 5- and 8-year-old at home. He also said it's a difficult decision but he’s leaning more toward in class learning.

“With so many parents not sending their kids back to school, the class sizes will be a lot smaller and a lot easier for the kids to social distance,” Ravin, said.

Oberlin Road Pediatrics even took to Facebook to share that all its doctors with school-aged children would also be sending their children back to the classroom. Many parents commented, expressing relief for their insight and recommendation.

“There’s nothing that garners more faith in your answer than actually showing that you’re going to practice what you preach,” Galla said.

If your child has special health care needs, chronic or medically complex conditions and disabilities, Galla said online learning is the way to go. When it comes to talking to your children and preparing them for a school year full of face masks and social distancing, Galla said a positive approach will give the best results.

“Phrasing it that way, as opposed to, ‘don’t touch this, don’t see your friend, don’t get sick.' It’s 'do stay healthy, do be a good friend, do be safe,” Galla said.

For parents who are thinking about sending their child back to school, Galla said parents should start training children to get in to the habit of washing their hands and washing their face masks as soon as they get home from school.