Doctors: Weighing in-person learning and public health is difficult

Posted at 6:18 PM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 19:18:52-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It's not an easy choice for parents, deciding how to educate children or what activities are safe to participate in.

Some schools are changing their learning models, with the rise of COVID-19 cases.

Also see:
OPS schools moving to remote learning
Elkhorn adds e-learning weeks
Bellevue sticking with in-person learning

Doctors agree, there is not one right answer here.

“If you have a child with an underlying condition such a chronic lung disease or asthma, neurologic disorder, diabetes, cardiac disease, you as the caregiver or parent should be considering what is the best place for your child,” Dr. Lauren Maskin, Pediatric Hospitalist and Medical Director of Inpatient Medical Surgical Services at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center said. “So, I think that is something to consider on a case by case basis or to engage with your pediatrician about.”

Dr. Maskin recommends looking at the protective measures your child’s school has in place and if they're being upfront about exposures.

“A lot of schools are doing smart things,” Dr. Maskin said. “They are having all of the children masked and teachers masked. But with that said we have to recognize there are places when they are eating and when they have to take off that mask so there is always an inherent risk I think when we leave our homes.”

Balancing the cost of not having students learning in person with public health is difficult doctors acknowledge.

“Sending all of the kids home and going to 100 percent remote learning, that’s not free,” Dr. Cliff Robertson, CEO, CHI Health said. “There is a significant cost and impact on the children on those kids both from a learning perspective but also behavioral health, anxiety, other issues.”

Dr. Maskin suggests parents also carefully consider the activities kids are participating in outside of school.

“I think there is less conversation about what kids are participating in outside of school,” Dr. Maskin said. “If they are in sports, they are in clubs, I would really implore parents to consider whether they are doing the right safety features or if it’s the right environment to be participating in that activity, especially as winter comes and more and more of these activities are indoors and in enclosed, contained spaces.”

She suggests exploring virtual options like additional music or language lessons to keep kids engaged.

None of these decisions are easy, but she said it is easy to recognize this is a community problem and we as a community need to make immediate changes.

“It’s a real shame if children have to miss out on school during a real vital part of their lives in order to keep everyone else safe and it’s really a last resort,” Dr. Maskin said.

Coronavirus Resources and Information

Johns Hopkins global coronavirus tracker