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A Major SoCal Pediatrician's Group Calls For The Immediate Reopening Of Schools Here

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The empty halls of Hollywood High photographed Sept. 8, 2020. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
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A group of Southern California pediatricians is calling for schools to immediately reopen campuses. The chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics includes 1,500 doctors from counties including Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino.

In a statement today, the group said prolonged school closures, "accelerate educational inequities and the negative impacts on the emotional and mental health of all students."

The doctors say research shows school attendance does not increase viral transmission in the community.

But UCLA epidemiologist Timothy Brewer told our newsroom’s public affairs show, AirTalk, which airs on 89.3, that the evidence is not so clear cut.

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"There are jurisdictions like British Columbia, for example, that essentially never took their kids out of school and were able to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. And then there are examples, for example, in Israel, when they reopened the schools and had a series of outbreaks."

L.A. Unified superintendent Austin Beutner and the teachers' union are calling for teachers and staff to be vaccinated before schools reopen, but the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today that vaccinating teachers isn't a prerequisite for safely resuming in-person instruction.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a news conference today that he agreed with the CDC guidance.

"I believe we can safely reopen public schools to in person instruction with the appropriate level of safety and support and accountability terms of enforcing the rules of the road," he said. "And we are committed and resolved to doing that in partnership with the legislature."

There is no question that the school shutdown — and the shift to online distance learning — has disproportionately affected low-income students and students of color. Tony Thurmond, the state's superintendent for public instruction, has shared this startling statistic: almost one-fifth of California's students still can't participate in distance-learning due to lack of computers and internet access.

Read the pediatrician's letter:

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