Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, assures America that he is certain he wants to see children — including his grandchildren — back in school this coming fall.
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Redfield reiterated the importance of getting kids back to school while maintaining the necessary public health measures.
“It is really important to get our schools open,” he said. “It’s not public health versus opening the schools for the economy; it’s public health versus public health.
“I think there really are a number of negative public health consequences that have happened to our K-12’s by having these schools closed.”
Asked whether he would be comfortable with his school-age grandchildren going back to school in the fall, Redfield said, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
“The only one that there may be some reservation is my grandson with cystic fibrosis, depending on how he can be accommodated in the school that he’s in,” the CDC director said. “But my other 10 grandchildren — of those, eight of them are school age — I’m 100 percent that they can get back to school.”
There are serious negative consequences that come with keeping schools shut down.
Last week, Redfield was in Charlotte, North Carolina, advocating for the reopening of schools in Mecklenburg County.
There, he said keeping children out of the classroom could be just as much of a public threat as COVID-19.
“Seven million children in this nation get their mental health assistance in school,” Redfield said. “Many students get their breakfast and lunch in school. Schools are really important for mandatory reporting of child abuse or sexual abuse.”
According to WCNC-TV, child abuse reports have gone down 40 percent since schools have closed.
“Teachers are the number one reporters of abuse and neglect among children, and with kids being out of school since march those numbers of dropped,” said Nicole Taylor, executive director of the organization Congregations for Kids, according to WCNC.
The CDC recognizes that schools do far more than just provide educational instruction. They are imperative for the development of social and emotional skills, the provision of nutrition and the facilitation of physical activity.
On Thursday, the CDC released a report on resources and tools that schools can use to open this fall. These guidelines will aid school administrators, teachers, parents, guardians and caregivers.
Together, we can open schools safely. This fall, school may look different in some communities b/c of #COVID19 – as face masks, distancing, & hand hygiene meet bookbags & homework. New CDC tools will help us make decisions for the upcoming school year. https://t.co/efgarAsMeq pic.twitter.com/jf284y1XGZ
— Dr. Robert R. Redfield (@CDCDirector) July 23, 2020
COVID-19 is not a great danger to healthy school-age children, as it carries little risk among this age group.
According to a CDC report on July 17, children ages 5 to 17 have the lowest rate of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, only 5.3 per 100,000 population, and represent less than 0.1 percent of deaths from the virus.
Redfield is confident that schools can reopen safely if they follow the CDC‘s guidelines, including the use of face masks and social distancing.
“It’s so important now to work together with school districts to figure out how they can take our guidelines and operationalize them in a practical way, and to do it in a way that is safe for those that are vulnerable,” he said.
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