July 20, 2020
First, let’s acknowledge this is a very difficult decision without a right or wrong answer. It could change based on community COVID rates increasing. It will also vary based on family circumstances and risk tolerance. Also, we have to recognize that nothing currently is risk-free in relation to coronavirus.
We feel that kids are at lower risk of COVID infection, severe COVID disease and are also less likely to spread it than adults. Thus, with masks, a degree of spacing, class cohorting when available and good hygiene practices, younger kids being in school is a reasonably safe proposition. Their likelihood of getting infected or bringing that infection home and giving it to their family is relatively low (they are more likely to get “routine” viral infections like influenza). The risk is slightly higher for high school kids, due both to school conditions like changing classes and slightly increased incidence of COVID disease.
This risk equation might change if your child has underlying chronic disease that might put them at higher risk of more severe COVID disease (like diabetes or obesity) or is immune suppressed. With other chronic diseases, COVID might trigger an episode (like causing an asthma exacerbation for an asthmatic or triggering a seizure in a patient with epilepsy), but these patients are not necessarily at higher risk of severe COVID disease. It also might be different if there is a family member at home who is at higher risk due to chronic medical conditions.
Overall, we would support the Academy of Pediatrics guidelines and Children’s Hospital Colorado guidelines that recommend the majority of children being back in school in-person if it can be done as safely as reasonably possible and if the community conditions are not dramatically worsening.