Pediatricians say reopening Rhode Island schools safe

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gov. Gina Raimondo has enlisted the help of two pediatricians to reassure parents that it is safe to reopen the state's schools as she has planned on Aug. 31.

Her reopening plan has received pushback from parents, teachers and administrators who don't think the coronavirus will be under adequate control by that date.

Dr. Jim McDonald of the state Department of Health, and Dr. Elizabeth Lange, former president of the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians, said during a live forum Thursday that while there is no way to make in-person learning risk-free, there are ways to minimize th risk.

Only 8% of Rhode Island’s COVID-19 positives are under 20, McDonald said.

“It really hasn’t affected children,” he said.

While there are risks with sending kids back to school, there are other risks in keeping them at home, Lange said.

“Children are feeling the stress from the lack of a routine,” she said. “Kids are staying up all might. They are afraid to go outside. They are more sedentary. Getting back to a routine is very important.”

School is more than about classroom lessons, McDonald said. Children learn about social responsibility, develop self-confidence and form lasting relationships with adults.

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