COVID-19

The Importance of Masking in Schools

Bastioned by the AAP’s statement1 in support of school reopenings amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, school governing bodies everywhere have established a spectrum of different masking requirements for students. Some may argue that masking could be disruptive to learning and development, particularly in young children. However, the caveat in the AAP’s statement must not be forgotten: that the school reopenings are to be driven by science and safety. Arrangements for social distancing at school are frequently changing, with some schools having greater capacity than others to space out students, and some school districts electing to continue the school year entirely online. Parents and guardians are often constrained by work or other life circumstances, including lack of financial or technological resources, giving them little choice but to send their children back to in-person education. Consistent masking practices for as many children as possible at school will greatly help to mitigate the associated risk of students and staff contracting and spreading COVID-19. Pediatricians are uniquely poised to advocate for this low-cost, minimally invasive intervention that may save countless lives of all ages. 

Without clear scientific guidance indicating that children do not contribute significantly to the spread of the pandemic, we are left to answer the question of how to proceed this academic year.

(more…)

#MaskUp Texas!

When Governor Abbott opened up Texas ahead of a downward trajectory in COVID-19 cases, the expectation was that social distancing and masking would still take place. While walking around the neighborhood, I was surprised to see unmasked diners at restaurants. There were couples and families, but also groups that did not seem to live together. As the weeks went on and restaurants were allowed to increase their activity, I saw indoor and outdoor tables with patrons back to back and yet masks were not donned. I wondered, when would we see the effects? 

(more…)

Children’s Hospitals Need More COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funding

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial losses of businesses and employees in the service, retail, and entertainment industries have been the subject of a large amount of media attention. What many Americans would not expect is that health systems are also under major financial strain during this difficult time.  Pediatricians can act now by writing their U.S. Representative or Senator to express the need for additional emergency funding for children’s health systems.

(more…)

COVID-19 and meals for low income children

The coronavirus has become a hot topic. No breaking news there. Everyone is doing their best to protect the overall population health, I have no doubt. A lot of times when we make broad sweeping changes, however, we forget about the unintentional consequences. I heard today that a local school district is cancelling classes for at least a week. At first glance, this falls in line with every other major institutions’ decisions the past week. We most likely forget, however, that a large proportion of our school-aged children rely on school attendance to receive 2 meals per day.

Thankfully there have been proposals to aid during this difficult time to feed children who are reliant on the school system for meals. States can request waivers from the USDA to continue providing meals, with Texas recently drafting its own. I recommend to local pediatricians to advise families to contact their local school districts to inquire about meal assistance programs. I also recommend contacting your Congressional House of Representatives member asking to expand the SNAP food assistance program during this difficult time.

Zachary Stone, MD