PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - As COVID-19 cases continue to soar in Oregon, kids going back to in-person learning in some counties seems more out of reach than ever.
But FOX 12 spoke with Dr. Dawn Nolt, Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, who believes it should be a priority to get kids back in class.
"I think there are true benefits to having in-person schooling, not just for academic reasons, but we know other benefits are for social, emotional skills and physical activity and mental health support," said Dr. Nolt. "So, my overarching goal is that we should try and have kids in school, in-person.”
Dr. Nolt said opening schools right now, with so many COVID cases, isn't the best idea. But she wishes schools had opened before cases starting rising, like in the fall.
“I think it would’ve been nice to try and open up schools when the case numbers were lower and to see what was happening, between the children and their families and the community," she said.
As soon as cases start declining, she believes schools should try and reopen.
“Education is a priority and we should understand that if reliable education is a priority for everyone, then it doesn’t make sense to open non-essential services for adults, if it keeps kids at home from school," said Dr. Nolt. “I would feel that schools should be as essential as medical offices and hospitals, as grocery stores, and as food manufacturers.”
She also said when schools do reopen, they should try and stay open.
“I have the bias in that I think schools should be open and essential and that the decision to, once a decision is made to open up the school, if rates in the community increase with the viral transmission, I think that schools should remain open if possible," she said.
FOX 12 also asked Dr. Nolt if she foresees the case number within kids increasing when schools reopen.
“Our experience and reports from other parts of the globe with different ways in which they’ve opened up schools, does not indicate that school reopening's increase infections in other parts of the community," she said.
Dr. Nolt said the key is to still reopen schools safely, like looking at class size, enforcing physical distancing and wearing masks.
Health experts, including Dr. Nolt, have also said kids overall seem less likely to have severe symptoms from COVID-19 and don't seem to transmit the disease as well as young or older adults.
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