LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As school districts in Kentucky and Indiana decide whether to send students back to in-person classes, many pediatricians who happen to be parents are saying something you may not expect, that it may be a big mistake for districts not to send children back to the classroom.
As districts like Jefferson County Public Schools make that tough decision for nearly 100,000 students, many are wondering if non-traditional instruction is the best solution for a child’s safety and well-being.
“These are well-trained, highly-educated folks who solve a lot of challenges every single day,” said Louisville mother of three and pediatrician Kelly Dauk, complimenting JCPS officials.
Dauk, who has a freshman preparing to enter JCPS, said that even if students start with NTI, she can only hope leaders will figure out a way to eventually get kids in school safely at least a day or two per week.
“We aren’t fully appreciating that there are significant safety risks in keeping kids solely at home,” she said.
Dauk said she opened the discussion about those risks on Facebook, maintaining that kids need structure, and NTI can cause their mental health to suffer, bringing anxiety and depression, and making some children feel isolated.
Other issues? There is concern some children may not get enough food or exercise at home, or live in troubled households and look to schools to find stability with teachers or coaches.
“I worry a lot about families that are using corporal punishment at home because certainly, this is a very frustrating, heated time for families,” she said.
Other children need physical or speech therapy services or have learning disabilities. Many of Dauk’s concerns were echoed by five independent pediatricians across the country who told NBC News that when it comes to children and coronavirus, they don’t get as sick as adults; serious complications for kids are rare, and young children are less likely to spread the virus. They agreed that as long as safety requirements are in place like social distancing, keeping desks apart, and good hand washing, they would all send their own children back to school without hesitation.
Dauk said that now more than ever, people are realizing how vital schools, teachers, and staff are to communities.