Pediatricians give parents back-to-school advice to keep students safe from COVID-19 this fall

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As some schools prepare to open for in-person learning this fall, parents are turning to pediatricians for advice on whether it's safe for their children to return to classrooms.

"We have to know what works to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Lurie Children's Hospital Chair of Pediatrics Dr. Matthew Davis. "It's about wearing masks, washing hands and having social distance."

If your individual school can guarantee all three, Dr. Davis said it's likely to be a safe environment. But it's a challenge for parents to know for sure.

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While doctors are still learning about coronavirus and kids, children who do get the virus typically experience mild symptoms.

"There have been cases in Chicago and around the world of multi-inflammatory syndrome in children. Fortunately, those are very rare," Dr. Davis said.

But children can be virus spreaders, although doctors say children younger than 10 don't transmit COVID-19 as much as older kids.

As teacher unions push for more remote learning, are educators safe to return to the classroom?

"The majority of our health care workers have remained safe by wearing masks following the procedure," said Dr. Frank Belmonte, of Advocate Health. "I think if teachers do the same, they will remain safe, the great majority."

Doctors from Advocate Health held a Facebook Live event on Thursday. They answered back-to-school questions and offered advice, including on how to safely bus students.

"Assigned seating, not using every seat, staggered buses, staggered times," said Dr. Mary Ann Collins.

With the anticipation of COVID-19 overlapping with flu season, pediatricians are also urging parents to get their children a flu shot as soon as they become available.
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