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Gonzalez, Latta, Johnson urge clearer guidance for schools on reopening during COVID-19

Washington, August 5, 2020

U.S. Congressmen Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Bob Latta (OH-5), and Bill Johnson (OH-6) today urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to arm schools and families with the tools and information they need to effectively return children to the classroom this fall by conducting a review of the existing literature on transmissions of COVID-19 in children as soon as possible. In addition, the letter requests that the financial constraints schools are facing be considered when providing detailed mitigation measures and for HHS to undertake additional studies to better understand the level of risk to families, teachers, and students when classroom-based instruction begins.

“While the benefits of in-person instruction are undeniable, many teachers, students, and parents are rightfully concerned about how schools will reopen safely this fall,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “By providing schools with accurate, up to date information on how children spread the virus as well as evidence-based guidance that recognizes the financial constraints schools are facing, we can ensure our nation’s teachers and children safely return to the classroom in the fall.

“We owe it to all students and their families to do everything we can so that schools can safely re-open this fall. In order to do that, we need answers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concerning how COVID-19 spreads through children.  Once we have this information, we will be able to better inform our communities and schools how to best proceed when crafting a plan to safely re-open schools in-person,” said Congressman Bob Latta. “Our country has a long road ahead, with many challenges to face and overcome, but none are more important than ensuring the health and well-being of our children.”

“With the school year rapidly approaching, many families are struggling to decide the best path forward for their children’s education this fall,” Congressman Bill Johnson said. “While some parents are reluctant to send their children into classrooms due to their fear of the coronavirus, there are also many parents – like me – who want their children to return to the classroom, five days a week this fall, observing the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines. However, understandably, many families need more information or reassurance. This letter requests just that.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. schools closed their doors in quick succession in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. While these stay-at-home orders were necessary, they have placed an unprecedented burden on American families and threatened the academic, emotional, and social development of an entire generation of children.

Research into COVID-19 has established that children are far less likely than adults to suffer serious illness or complications from the virus, but it remains unclear how easily children contract the virus and what role they play in transmitting the virus to other children or their more vulnerable adult teachers and caregivers. Uncovering definitive answers on the role children play in transmitting COVID-19 and prioritizing functionable mitigation measures is critical to helping re-open schools safely and on time.

Read the full text of the letter here.

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