More and more students in our area are being given the chance to return to in-person learning, and it has been a long and weary time since last March for many of you. Some families are still feeling uncertain about what this means, and what is being done to protect students and staff returning to in-person learning. Fortunately, there is more evidence based guidance and data on how to mitigate transmission of COVID within schools. In our own health district, we have been following some of the best practice recommendations from the beginning. Each week since August representatives from private as well as all of the public schools in our health districts, health department representatives and local pediatricians including your own Drs. Armengol, Perriello and Knight have met to give support and guidance on successful protocols to operate in-person learning. While we continue to advocate for teachers to get priority access to the vaccine, we now have quality data in addition to our anecdotal evidence that the mitigation strategies can be successful in preventing COVID transmission in school settings even without the additional reassurance that the vaccine provides.
It is heartbreaking to witness the trauma that school closure continues to cause for so many children, and some of our most vulnerable patients are being affected the most. For many families, there will be lifelong medical and mental health consequences that we will be identifying and treating for years and years to come. Our teachers have made heroic efforts to connect to families out of the school building, but it is not the same as that special space that we will never again take for granted. We are hopeful that everyone will make extra efforts to show their gratitude for the exhausting work that their teachers are doing to make this pivot when they are all stretched to their limits.
Many children will be excited about the chance to return to the classroom, but it is normal to experience many feelings. While much time has passed to get adjusted to virtual learning, lots of the grief that we experienced over this long year may bubble up along with the happiness. Make time to be present for your child to talk about what they are feeling. Even though this may be something they look forward to, it is one more change in an uncertain year. Keep other parts of healthy routines consistent and ensure that their sleep schedule will allow for adequate rest. As always we are here to support you if your child is having a difficult time with the transition.