The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) supports in-person education and has revised its guidelines for school closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
CHOP’s new recommendations come “at a time when all adults and youth in K-12 facilities have been offered immunizations” and with “evidence that COVID-19 is becoming a milder infection in most children.”
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, schools (and especially students) have been asked to shoulder a significant burden to avoid the risk of serious illness in an unvaccinated public,” CHOP said in its guidelines for schools. “Now that all K-12 school communities have been offered immunizations, the competing risks for children of education loss due to prolonged school closures alongside social isolation are of much greater concern. than COVID-19 itself. “
The hospital added that “while it is too early to conclude that COVID-19 has become an endemic seasonal virus like influenza, the decline in virulence shows signs that we are moving quickly in that direction, particularly for vaccinated persons “.
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“Now, with limited access to testing at community sites and many schools overwhelmed with contact tracing and required testing solutions that are no longer feasible or sustainable, the time has come to move towards solutions that provide prioritizing the standardization of school education in all communities alongside practical safety measures, ”said CHOP.
Hospital counseling allows exposed but asymptomatic students and staff to stay in school. Additionally, weekly testing for asymptomatic students and staff is halted, and schools will remain open if 10% of staff are absent compared to 3%, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. first reported.
Its mitigation recommendations include indoor masking, efforts by staff with respiratory illnesses to stay home while showing symptoms, testing for students and staff with mild symptoms of COVID-19 and booster vaccinations.
More than 80% of school staff in Philadelphia were fully immunized by October, according to the school district. Those who are not vaccinated are subject to regular testing.
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Schools in Philadelphia reopened after winter recess this week, but switched to virtual learning on Friday due to a winter storm and staff shortages linked to COVID-19, Superintendent William Hite said in a statement. letter to parents.
“As we’ve shared before, we’re committed to making school-by-school decisions based on the most recent staffing data, which can change quickly,” Hite said. “District leaders will continue to monitor staff data from all of our schools on a daily basis throughout this week and over the weekend.”
As of Wednesday, the city had 5,500 positive cases for COVID-19. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health on Friday recorded 2,858 new cases and a positivity rate of nearly 38%.
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More than 74% of adults in Philadelphia are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
More than 5,200 schools in the United States closed in the first week of the year, some of which will remain closed until Jan. 16, according to community events website Burbio, which has tracked school closures in about 5 000 school districts during the pandemic.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has also supports in-person learning.