The Texas Medical Association’s School Reopening Workgroup and the Texas Pediatric Society (TPS) are calling on Texans to remain vigilant and maintain proven preventive measures against COVID-19 as schools reopen, primarily urging school leadership to keep universal masking policies in place.
The physicians strongly recommend schools follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance in the Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation to help schools reopen and remain open. The guidance says universal and correct wearing of masks and physical distancing are effective prevention strategies. Consistent use of masks has been proven to slow the spread of disease and can reduce the need for quarantining large groups of students. Keeping kids in schools has been a paramount goal for the workgroup, and keeping COVID-19 rates down in each community is essential to accomplishing this goal.
“As we work to vaccinate teachers and school staff, schools must continue to use evidence-based strategies including masking to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and keep children and staff well,” said Valerie Smith, MD, chair of TMA’s School Reopening Workgroup and TPS executive board member.
“Texas physicians recognize schools play a vital role in the developmental, mental, and physical health of our children. We are grateful for the perseverance and adaptability schools have demonstrated this year as they strive to provide safe spaces for Texas children to learn,” said Dr. Smith, a Tyler pediatrician.
When students, families, teachers, school staff, and community members consistently follow proven preventive strategies, the physicians said, communities can reduce the risk of in-school spread of the coronavirus and maximize in-person learning. Universal mask-wearing, physical distancing, isolation of ill and exposed individuals, and handwashing have all proven effective in reducing the spread of the virus and have been critical in allowing schools to reopen during the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, TMA’s workgroup has issued other recommendationspertaining to schools opening to on-campus education.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 55,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
TPS, the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is the premier state professional nonprofit organization of over 4,500 Texas pediatricians and medical students. TPS believes that the most important resource of the State of Texas is its children and pledges its efforts to promote their health and welfare.