Public Health Statement - 7/29/2020
As your local public health officials and medical professionals, we care deeply about protecting the health of local students, teachers and families. With that in mind, we want to offer you our full and united support in your efforts to open our schools safely to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations in COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-Entry (here) say that masks and face coverings are a high priority for students, along with social distancing and hand hygiene.
We agree with these recommendations and join the many other professional organizations that support these interventions for the health and safety of our children, which include the Nebraska Academy of Family Physicians, Nebraska Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics, Nebraska Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With coronavirus still active in our communities, we strongly support the following measures to prevent the spread of this disease and safely reopen schools:
1. Mask wearing – The use of cloth masks or face coverings in all enclosed settings.
2. Physical distancing - A goal of at least 6 feet distance from others (about two arms- length).
3. Hand-washing - Frequent hand-washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer. 4. Staying home when sick.
Scientific evidence clearly demonstrates the above recommendations will be critical to providing a safe return to school and reducing outbreaks that will threaten school or classroom closure.
Masks, used in conjunction with social distancing practices, are particularly important tools to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Research has shown that COVID-19 is spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets which are produced when people cough, sneeze or talk. Masks provide an extra layer of protection that trap these respiratory droplets and prevent them from traveling into the air and onto other people. It is important to note that mask usage is most effective when all people wear them. When one individual chooses not to wear a mask, it endangers others by risking asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spread of the virus.
We understand that there may be specific and limited circumstances where continuous use of masks is not possible in schools. However, we want to stress that masks are safe and have been successfully used with no additional health risks in a variety of settings, including within the pediatric population.
Thank you for your leadership and for your key role in providing a safe environment for our children, their families and the whole community as we work together to navigate through these unprecedented times.
The Public Health Officials and Medical Community in the East-Central District (Boone, Colfax, Nance, and Platte Counties)
East Central District Health Department Good Neighbor Community Health Center Columbus Community Hospital Columbus Children’s Healthcare Columbus Family Practice
Columbus Medical Center / Columbus Urgent Care CHI Health Schuyler