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VERIFY: Fact vs. fiction on back to school COVID-19 claims

The VERIFY team worked with a doctor and mother to answer some of the most asked-questions about going back to school during the pandemic.

The choice of whether or not to send your child back to school is a difficult and personal decision. While the internet can be a great place to find resources and information, it’s also the source of a lot of confusion right now.

There have been claims about reopening schools all the way from the president down to local social media groups. 

To cut through the noise, the VERIFY team took some of the most-asked questions directly to Dr. Sujatha Reddy to get her take.

CLAIM: “Children are immune to COVID-19.”

“Children are not immune to coronavirus,” Dr. Reddy said. “They can contract coronavirus and develop COVID-19. That is not true.”

Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics supports Dr. Reddy. They show that 380,174 child cases of COVID-19 have been reported. Of those cases, 179,990 were recorded in the last four weeks alone.

CLAIM: “Children have milder cases.”

Dr. Reddy said in most cases, this is true that the sickness children get from the coronavirus is likely to be more mild than adults.

“Children tend to be developing a more mild illness related to the coronavirus,” she said. “Some of their symptoms are the same as adults. They can get the runny nose and they can get the fever…Children are far less likely to end up in an ICU and on a ventilator than older adults.”

QUESTION: Should I be worried about my children going to school, then being near at-risk family members?

For most family members, Dr. Reddy said social distancing should be safe enough around children who've gone to school.

“If they're going to see each other, which I hope they do, the safest thing to do is practice social distancing,” Dr. Reddy said. “Wear a mask if you can’t be six feet apart, but if you can be together as a family in a large room where there’s fresh air, I think you can safely see your family.”

When it comes to at-risk family members, however, Dr. Reddy did say that extra precautions may be needed.

“If you have older relatives that have pre-existing conditions or what we consider medically very vulnerable to the complications of coronavirus, it may be best while we're still figuring this out, to keep the kids separated from those adults.”

QUESTION: Should I send my kids back to school?

That’s the big question which unfortunately can’t be answered on a large scale. Dr. Reddy said this choice should be a very individual decision, and based on the local realities in your area.

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“You know your child best. You know how much they're missing school or not missing school,” Dr. Reddy said. “It's very hard as a parent not to let your emotions come into this but I think you really need too.”

Dr. Reddy suggested some great questions that you can ask to help determine the answer that’s best for your children.

“Look at the cases in your area, you need to look at what is your school doing to protect your child? Do you think that's sufficient? Do you think that's not sufficient? Have there been cases in the school already? In your community what is happening? All those factors should go into making that decision.”

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