Doctors suggest parents send kids back to school despite COVID-19 concerns

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, social isolation could be more harmful to a child than actually catching the virus.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — On Tuesday, doctors said parents should send their kids into the classroom despite COVID-19 concerns.

“Fear has taken over everyone’s minds right now,” said Lyndsey Taylor, a mother to three school-aged children.

Taylor is one of many determining whether or not to send her children back to the classroom this fall.

“I’m still 60-40,” said Taylor.

RELATED: Schools, parents making decisions as new school year approaches

School districts across the state are giving parents options, which are in-class learning or at-home virtual learning.

But, the thought of COVID-19 spreading in the classroom has parents like Taylor torn.

“You just want to protect your kids from everything,” said Taylor.

The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a report Tuesday calling for parents to send their kids back to the classroom because social isolation could be more harmful than the risk of catching the virus.

Pediatric Dr. Jerry Byrum at All for Kids Pediatric Clinic in Little Rock backed the AAP.

“COVID-19 is not that terribly dangerous to small children, even if they catch it,” said Dr. Byrum. “We know there are dangers if you are socially isolated for too long. The longer it goes, the more dangerous it can be.”

According to the AAP, evidence from spring 2020 school closures shows negative impacts like high risk of mortality from abuse, substance use, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.

Dr. Byrum added that it’s also critical kids don’t get too far behind in learning.

“You’ve got just a little window to read. Studies show that you miss that window, then you’re not going to read as well. You’re going to be behind the rest of your life,” said Dr. Byrum.

This doesn’t mean schools are relaxed on safety precautions. Byrum said doctors like himself are working with teachers who are creating a safe learning environment for children.

“They are doing things like social distancing in the class, trying to hold down the movement of kids and others in the class to minimize the spread,” said Byrum. “We aren’t saying don’t protect your kids from COVID-19, but we are saying there’s more to it than just COVID-19.”

RELATED: LRSD ‘strongly recommends’ students wear masks when school returns this fall

The AAP has a list of safety measures on its website that school districts can implement this fall, like mask-use and a rapid response temperature-check policy.