WATCH: U-M Mott Children’s experts discuss returning to in-person learning

Screenshot from the live Q&A session by experts at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital on Jan. 28, 2021. (Michigan Medicine)

ANN ARBOR – On Thursday afternoon, University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital hosted a live Q&A session for parents who have questions and concerns about returning to face-to-face learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some area schools have already reopened and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has encouraged all public schools to reopen by March 1.

“We’ve learned a lot since the start of the pandemic, first with the complete closure of schools and then with gradual re-openings in different places around the country and overseas as well,” said Alison Tribble, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Mott.

“I think that at this point in time, we actually have really encouraging data that this is a safe move for schools to start returning to in-person education.”

Tribble said several new studies show that transmission in schools is very low, and often lower than general community transmission.

“Schools do need to keep kids from congregating,” said Tribble, who said that talking in close groups does raise the risk of transmission. “Eating lunch in schools and taking masks off is obviously a concern.”

She said keeping kids in large, well ventilated rooms will be key to mitigating the spread of transmission.

“Mask wearing remains number one for population spread,” said Terry Bravender, chief of adolescent medicine at Mott. “There are a limited number of reasons for an appropriate mask exemption. Many of my patients will wear the mask because they want to do the right thing for their friends and their teachers.”

Other topics covered included teen mental health as a result of isolation, social and behavioral challenges of re-entering schools, how COVID presents in children and when a vaccine might be available for kids.

Watch the full discussion below:

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.