Pediatricians weigh in on the safety of returning to school

With students preparing to return to school in the fall, we don’t know yet what it will look like.
Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 8:45 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s almost back-to-school time already. And, while school districts work on their individual restart plans, one thing is certain -- it’ll look different this year.

Doctors say that school-aged children are less prone to serious complications and hospitalizations from coronavirus than adults are. However, parents and students might still have some concerns. Doctors say there are ways to prepare at home to help minimize risk at school.

This is how schools were before the pandemic. Now, with students preparing to return to school in the fall, we don’t know yet what it will look like.

“We are in a situation in North Dakota where our COVID-19 cases are relatively lower that we can move forward into starting life back to a more new normal. I don’t have any concerns with the schools opening at this time,” said pediatrician at Mid Dakota Clinic Amy Juelson.

Juelson’s kids will be heading off to school along with the rest of North Dakota’s students. As a pediatrician and mother, she says parents should expect a rise in respiratory illnesses in the fall.

“We realistically should expect that we’re going to have viral illnesses and that COVID will be a part of it,” Juelson said.

She says students exhibiting signs of illness should stay home and away from other children. She says there’s no need to bring your child to the doctor unless their symptoms persist for more than five days. If a classmate tests positive, she says to follow the school’s protocol.

CHI St. Alexius Family Physician Laura Archuleta says schools are more prepared to fight back against COVID than they were in spring.

“I myself am a parent and I have a middle schooler and two high schoolers. And, we have come to the conclusion that there is a risk from the virus but there’s also a risk to leaving our students at home,” Laura Archuleta said.

She says it’s important to prepare your child by setting a good example. Teach your students to properly wear a mask, wash hands, avoid touching their faces and maintain social distance by doing so yourself.

“As a parent, I do feel like it’s okay to send my kids back,” Archuleta said.

Both Archuleta and Juelson agree that returning to class comes with its own health benefits like stability, community, face-to-face interaction and education.

Doctors say that if your child is at a higher risk of complications from the virus, you should speak with your school to see if there are safer learning alternatives.

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