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A Word from the Experts

In recent weeks, conversations on how to reopen our nation’s schools safely in the fall have turned increasingly partisan. Noticeably, the news cycle and left-wing politicians have eclipsed the judgement of health experts at the expense of America’s students. It’s time to end the political finger pointing, take a word from the experts, and listen to what the research and science is telling us…
 
American Academy of Pediatrics
 
At the end of June, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published interim guidance in which they strongly advocated “that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The guidance detailed the physical and mental health impacts that school closures have had on adolescent students, bringing urgent attention to safely reopening classrooms in the fall.
 
AAP noted that the prolonged absence from school and subsequent interruption of supportive services have resulted in several issues for students like social isolation, learning loss, and physical abuse at home. The AAP states in their guidance that school closures have left children and adolescents exposed to “considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.”
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 
In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance titled “Considerations for Schools.” The guidance outlines ways in which schools can help protect students, teachers, administrators, and staff while reopening schools safely. 
 
The guidance stresses that schools can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials, whether and how to implement these considerations “while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community.”
 
The guidance focuses on encouraging individuals to stay home if they are sick, practicing good hygiene, stressing the use of face coverings when feasible, having adequate cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, and modifying layouts of physical space to promote social distancing.
 
Collaborative for Student Growth
 
Many concerns have been expressed about the degree to which students are falling behind academically. The Collaborative for Student Growth published projections for how much learning loss students might experience as a result of school closures, and the numbers are alarming.
 
They projected that some students could experience as much as a 50 percent reduction in typical learning gains. These projections assume an extension of a typical summer learning loss back to mid-March when most schools closed and does not consider the negative impacts of remote learning.
 
The Brookings Institution
 
In a report outlining the costs of school closures, the Brookings Institution writes “…data suggest the world could lose as much as $10 trillion over the coming generation as a result of school closures today.”
 
A Brooking’s blog post highlighting the report argues: “When children lose out on education, they lose out on future opportunities including economic benefits, such as additional earnings, with far-reaching consequences. Some modeling suggests that the loss of learning during the extraordinary systemic crisis of World War II still had negative impact on former students’ lives some 40 years later. And neither is the impact of lost learning confined to the individual level: For whole societies closing down education today, there will likely be significant consequences tomorrow.”