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Nation's Pediatricians Walk Back Support For In-Person School

The American Academy of Pediatrics once again plunged into the growing debate over school reopening with a strong new statement Friday, making clear that while in-person school provides crucial benefits to children, "Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics." The statement also said that "science and community circumstances must guide decision-making."

The AAP is changing tone from the guidance it issued just over two weeks ago. Then, the organization made a national splash by recommending that education leaders and policymakers "should start with a goal of having students physically present in school."

The Trump administration this week repeatedly cited the AAP in pressuring school leaders to reopen. Dr. Sally Goza, the association's president, appeared at a White House roundtable with President Trump. She later toldMorning Edition's David Greenethat local coronavirus infection rates and hot spots have to be taken into consideration to safely reopen schools.

The previous guidance was criticized for saying little about the safety of educators and other school personnel. Friday's statement, cosigned by the two national teacher unions and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, calls for putting educators as well as other stakeholders at the center of decision-making. It emphasized that reopening safely will take more money: "We call on Congress and the administration to provide the federal resources needed to ensure that inadequate funding does not stand in the way of safely educating and caring for children in our schools."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anya Kamenetz is an education correspondent at NPR. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning. Since then the NPR Ed team has won a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Innovation, and a 2015 National Award for Education Reporting for the multimedia national collaboration, the Grad Rates project.