Medical experts in Virginia support the re-opening of schools

The Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics ran a study that found students are not faring well without in-person learning.
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 8:41 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Governor Ralph Northam announced on Friday that Virginia school districts need to have plans for in-person learning options by March 15th.

The Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement agreeing with the governor, saying that children need to be back in school.

In December, the chapter ran a study that canvassed 203 pediatricians throughout Virginia to gauge what they are seeing from their patients during the pandemic.

“Pediatricians were finding that there were several issues coming up. A lot of mental health issues, academic problems, and things like that,” Percita Ellis said.

Ellis is a pediatrician in Rockbridge, Virginia, a member of the Virginia Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, and a member of the “School Reopening Task force” in Virginia.

The study found that 98% of those doctors reported an increase in child and adolescent anxiety and 95% seeing increases in depression.

Ellis said she has seen these problems with her own eyes and the results of the study led them to agree with Northam’s reopening plan.

“By the middle of March, we would really like to see the full system, as much as possible, the school systems. be up and running to really address those needs of kids that really need the structure, really need the peer interaction, and really need the organization and therapies,” Ellis said.

Ellis said the task force has been working with Northam and the Virginia Department of Health to find a safe way to return to school and added that the governor’s announcement asked school divisions to give the option to go back to school, but did not make it a requirement for every student.

Ellis said the task force understands some families may not wish to return to in-person learning right now and are working to meet every family where they are.

She adds that safety guidelines and mitigation strategies are important in reopening schools.

You can find more information on the study done by the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics by clicking here.

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