Contact: Dave Testerman
CONCORD, NH – Karen Testerman, Republican Candidate for NH Governor, released the following: As Governor, I would encourage the following guidelines and promote the immediate reopening of all school districts.
Primary in any educational plan is the role of the parent(s)/guardian. The parent(s) is the child’s first teacher. The parent knows the child the best and is, therefore, a child’s primary and often the only advocate. I cannot overemphasize the parent’s responsibility when it comes to the educational well-being of the child.
School boards must work with parents to determine how to meet their children’s needs best. Public hearings should be held in each district before the school board finalizes any plans. I encourage school board members to examine the data and science associated with the current situation.
The NH branch of the American Academy for Pediatrics “urges a balanced, collaborative approach” that includes parents.
Recommended starting points:
- The data available to the state must be made available to those concerned.
- Review the Department of Education’s School Reopening and Redesign Task Force guidelines.
- Consider the School District Governance Association’s guidance for parents.
- Remember that the NH Branch of the American Academy for Pediatrics “urges a balanced, collaborative approach” that includes parents.
- Urge the removal of any unnecessary restrictions and mandates on school openings.
All decisions regarding the reopening of NH schools must rest with the school boards after listening to parents, teachers, and administrators in their district. While challenging, reopening will not be a turn of the switch.
These plans should consider the limited funding available due to the current economic shutdown and revenue shortfalls.
7 North State Street Concord, NH 03301-4018
NH AAP Statement on School Re-Opening
As pediatricians, the health, well-being, and safety of NH children are first and foremost in our minds. We applaud the efforts of teachers and educators during these challenging times and support the gathering of the Governor’s School Re-Opening and Redesign Task Force. While we are relieved that COVID-19 has largely spared children, we have seen first-hand the effects on kids of isolation and loss of community, particularly stemming from the closure of schools and the important developmental, social, and educational engagement they provide. With that in mind, we urge deliberate planning now for the physical reopening of schools in the fall.
In doing so we must take the full measure of children’s health. In-person learning is central not just to education, but to a child’s developmental, behavioral, and emotional wellbeing. Sadly, over the past few months, we have seen increases in anxiety, depression, and suicidality among our patients. Children rely on schools for community and for basic needs such as nutrition, physical activity, socialization, and the many small daily challenges and successes that help them grow and develop. Children with disabilities or special needs require services that are extraordinarily difficult to deliver remotely, and it is virtually impossible for younger children to learn remotely, even with an engaged adult at home to help.
No doubt there are elements of remote learning that we will choose to keep, and some children and adolescents have done well with it. But there is also no doubt that school closure has been extremely hard on many, particularly those with few resources such as single or working parents with young children. Prolonged school closures will widen the equity gap, harming those most vulnerable.
There is some good news about COVID-19. It is becoming increasingly clear that children are much less affected by the COVID-19 virus than adults. Only 5% of all NH cases have occurred in children ages 19 and under with only 1.5% under age 10. There have been only 6 hospital admissions in the state through the end of May, several of these precautionary, and all discharged and doing well. At the same time, there is emerging evidence that unlike many other viruses, children are not ‘super spreaders’, transmitting the virus rarely with one another and even less to adults. The data show that adults are the primary source of household infection. Our decisions regarding school openings should be data-driven and based on facts, and it is crucial to recognize that the epidemiology for children is not the same as for adults.
We should be prepared to follow the data closely through the summer months, and learn from the hundreds of millions of children worldwide who are back in school in Quebec, Britain, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, and other countries. We will also learn from the experience of summer camps and youth sports that are re-starting in the United States.
Similarly, the reopening guidelines for School Districts should be based on the best available evidence, with flexibility for local conditions. No two schools are exactly the same and there are important geographic variations. Reasonable safeguards will be necessary, and we cannot be cavalier. But blanket requirements for 6 feet of social distancing and universal face masks are unnecessary, particularly for younger children who are at the lowest risk and simply cannot learn with those restrictions. We urge a balanced, collaborative approach involving educators, public health officials, pediatricians, mental health professionals, and parents. In re-opening and mitigating risk, we need to give children schools that encourage developmentally appropriate curiosity, exploration, and learning.
NH schools should not be among the last to open. The time to plan for physically reopening NH schools in the fall is now.
Steven H. Chapman, M.D.
NH AAP Chapter President [email protected]
AAP School Re-Opening Guidelines
The New Hampshire Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of over 300 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists, and advanced pediatric nurse practitioners dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.