CDC officials provide evidence recommending a return to in-person learning

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: January 29, 2021

Sending kids back to school has been a point of contention among school districts, policy makers, and families throughout the pandemic. However, this past Tuesday, federal health officials called for a return to in-person learning across the nation, claiming there was insufficient evidence that schools spark severe community outbreaks similar to those seen in nursing homes, prisons, and other congregate settings.

A return to the classroom will require communities to take action toward limiting spread, which could require shutting down indoor dining, bars, and gyms. A report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association emphasized this, as well as the need to continue mitigation measures in classrooms and limit unnecessary indoor activities. These activities could include classroom social events, indoor sports practice, tournaments, and other large gatherings where in-school transmission could occur. This article also recommended that schools continue to offer an online option, especially for those most at risk of severe illness or death if infected with COVID-19.

Resuming in-person learning would result in a number of positive changes for kids and families across the state, as schools often serve as places of well-being. Reopening schools would allow many of our state’s children to regain access to essential resources, including learning supports from direct interaction with educators as well as access to staff and resources that support students’ mental and physical health. This could also allow for many parents to return to work, resulting in improved economic security for families and sparking economic recovery throughout the state.

Photo by CDC

The Colorado Children’s Campaign has been focused on advocating for the economic, social, and educational well-being of kids and families throughout the pandemic, with a return to in-person learning being one of our priorities. In September, we were joined by 44 other organizations in signing on to a letter urging state policy makers to center kids and families in their pandemic response. The requests outlined in this letter still hold true with the recent news from CDC officials, and include:

  • More direct guidance to providing in-person instruction to elementary students, students with disabilities, and students who are inadequately served in remote learning environments
  • Putting more resources into improving online education for students who cannot return to in-person instruction, as well as ensuring all students have internet access
  • Easing the burdens on parents in navigating the need for child care
  • Making sure the basic needs of children and families are met, and ensuring that children, their caretakers, and educators have everything they need to be safe and healthy regardless of setting

While we view the recent release of this report as a major win for Colorado’s kids, we are also aware that much work has to be done in dismantling other barriers existing in schools during this time. As many of us are focused on a return to “normal,” we must recognize the urgent need in redefining what normal looks like in an education system that continues, in numerous ways, to perpetuate racial disparities in schools. Racist policies, curriculum, and practices must be addressed as students return to in-person learning and we continue to work toward improved child wellbeing and equity across the state.

The aforementioned letter was originally published on Chalkbeat, and can be found here. Click here to access the JAMA report providing evidence to support a return to in-person learning.

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About Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.