Pediatric infectious disease specialists weigh in on reopening Alabama’s schools during COVID-19 crisis

Alabama News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Schools are getting ready to release their reopen plan for the fall semester.

Dr. David Kimberlin, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s of Alabama, said he supports schools having students physically back in the classroom, but said we must do it right.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released their own COVID-19 planning considerations on how schools can safely reopen, going into great detail breaking down different grade schools, how to socially distance at gym class, recess, cafeteria, hallway, and other places.

Kimberlin said Alabama learned a lot when large chunks of it shut down in the spring, but that we must move forward now and make it a successful and safe fall semester.

“We did what we needed to do in March. It was a very quick take down from normalcy and people going to school to not returning to the school setting after coming back from spring break, and what we learned is several things. We learned that can be effective in terms of decreasing the amount of the virus in the community. We also learned there were unintended consequences on children and specifically on their ability to learn and retain and maintain the milestones they developed over the course of the school year. There were also mental and emotional aspects of not being around other children,” Kimberlin said.

Some parents said they are ready for schools to reopen and want their kids back in the classroom.

For Leslie Cumptan, her children go to Homewood City Schools. She said she is still undecided if her kids will attend school physicially or go virtual.

“I want my kids in school. School is very important to me and I want them to have the best education possible. That’s why we moved to Homewood because of the school system and I want them there but, at same time I have to feel, if I send them to school and they were to get sick or get someone else sick, I would never forgive myself, but at same time if there is a plan and even if they have to wear a mask all day or not play sports or things like that, if that’s the sacrifices we have to make but my kids will be safer and healthier, then that’s OK,” Cumptan said.

Cumptan said a big factor will be how virtual school will work and making sure if her children did virtual school, they wouldn’t be behind from the other students in the classroom.

Kimberlin said everyone has a role in keeping schools open, even if you don’t have a child in school. That’s why he said we must take COVID-19 seriously and continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“If we want to protect what is going on in school, that means protect the children, students but it also means protecting the staff and teachers. If we want to do that, we have to be looking at the broader community and that means all of us in the community need to do our part to decrease the amount of virus in the community. That will decrease the amount of virus in the school. That’s going to help protect teachers who might be at risk as well,” he said.


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