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The Florida Roundup
The Florida Roundup is a live, weekly call-in show with a distinct focus on the issues affecting Floridians. Each Friday at noon, listeners can engage in the conversation with journalists, newsmakers and other Floridians about change, policy and the future of our lives in the sunshine state.Join our host, WLRN’s Tom Hudson, broadcasting from Miami.

Florida Pediatricians Urging Caution In Reopening Schools

boy wearing a mask and carrying a backpack walks in front of a wall
iStock / coscaron
The president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics told The Florida Roundup that schools need to consider the prevalence of the coronavirus in their communities very carefully before making the decision to reopen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new statement Friday clarifying its position when it comes to schools reopening this fall.

They said schools should reopen on a case-by-case basis, and that markers for safety should be determined by local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents working together.

Earlier guidance from two weeks agosaid "schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being," and that early evidence from school closures in the spring of this year shows the negative impacts of time away from school, including "social isolation, learning deficits and interruption of supportive services."

The statement also said transmission of the coronavirus by young children is uncommon because the coronavirus "appears to behave differently in children and adolescents than other common respiratory viruses."

But Florida chapter president Dr. Paul Robinson told The Florida Roundup that contradicts what he knows:

“I’ve always been taught and discovered that kids are super-spreaders," Robinson said Friday.  "My wife and I will both tell you that when our kids got sick when they were little, we always got sick.”

Dr. Paul Robinson, President of the florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Credit fcaap.org
Dr. Paul Robinson says schools need to consider the ethical implications of opening too soon.

Robinson agreed with the more localized approach of the revised statement, saying that each region needs to consider its "viral load" - the status of the virus in their community - in any reopening plan. 

As far as schools reopening in Florida, Robinson said COVID-19 remains a very real threat.

“It would be irresponsible to go head-over-heels into school without keeping an eye on the viral infections in the state,” he said.

Part of the pushback came from educators who are not comfortable returning to schools, such as members of a Viriginia teachers' union who told NPR they're afraid for their lives.

Robinson also acknowledged that fear, particularly for teachers who are older and at greater risk of catching the coronavirus.

“From an ethical standpoint, keeping people alive trumps everything else,” he said.

The Florida Roundup airs Friday at noon on WUSF 89.7.

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After more than 40 years learning and helping others understand more about so many aspects of our world and living in it, I still love making connections between national news stories and our community. It's exciting when I can find a thread between a national program or greater premise and what is happening at the local or personal level. This has been true whether I’ve spun the novelty tunes of Raymond Scott or Wilmoth Houdini from a tiny outpost in a Vermont field, or shared the voices of incarcerated women about what it’s like to be behind bars on Mother’s Day with the entire state of New Hampshire.