Make In-Person Learning Option Available

Why?

The students of the Bellevue School District (BSD) have been kept away from school for more than 9 months.

The state and the county have opened up almost every aspect of the society except for school. It is scientifically unjustified and morally wrong to continue asking our young to be the ones to sacrifice and shoulder the burden of the pandemic.

Given that the conditions laid out by the state and county for hybrid model have been fully met, we urge the district to give students the option to go back to school without further delay; we urge the district, the county, and the state to work together and do whatever it takes to ensure that school stays open. While we are very appreciative of what school districts have done for remote learning and understand the huge challenges it faces, we believe more must be done for our young.


Facts

COVID-19 is a mild disease for the young

The CDC stated that the risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19 [1]. The majority of the children with COVID-19 exhibit no or mild symptoms [2]. It is extraordinarily rare for children, especially healthy ones, to die from COVID-19 [3][4]. Even during the peak of the pandemic COVID-19 caused 0.8% of the deaths among children between 5 and 14 in the US, and children in this age range were 16 times more likely to die from unintentional injury than from COVID-19 [5].

Read more about it:


[1] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-in-babies-and-children/art-20484405[3] https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3249[4] https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/children-and-covid-19-state-level-data-report/[5] https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2290

School setting is not a key driver of the spread of COVID-19 among students and the community at large

Incidence rates among students were virtually identical in Sweden, where schools stayed open, and Finland, where schools were closed. Teachers in Sweden were not exposed to a higher level of risks compared to other occupations [6]. The European Center of Disease Control stated that child to child transmission in schools is uncommon and not the primary cause of COVID-19 infection in children. Observational data suggest that re-opening schools has not been associated with significant increases in community transmission [7] as child-to-child and child-to-adult transmission is far less likely than adult-to-child transmission [8].

Read more about it:


[6] https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/contentassets/c1b78bffbfde4a7899eb0d8ffdb57b09/covid-19-school-aged-children.pdf[7] https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/children-and-school-settings-covid-19-transmission[8] https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/146/2/e2020004879

Social isolation caused by school closure has already led to significant psychological stress among our young which may result in serious long-term mental health problems

COVID-19 is causing a national mental health crisis [9]. Mental well-being of families with children has been hit especially hard by this pandemic [10][11]. The longer we keep the children out of school the more difficult it will be for them to re-integrate into the school learning environment.

Read more about it:


[9] https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use[10] https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/daily-summary.aspx[11] https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/08/31/peds.2020-007294

For many families, the academic, physical and mental upsides associated with returning children to schools outweighs the risks

As concluded by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the academic, physical and mental upsides associated with returning children to schools outweighs the risks [12]. We have already learned to protect the most vulnerable, seniors and those with underlying conditions, from COVID-19, and the time has come to put school first and foremost. The failure to do right by our young cannot be allowed to continue.

Read more about it:


[12] https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/ 7294