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Is going back to school safe? Oishei's top doctor breaks down the evidence

Posted at 5:28 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 17:28:41-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Will returning to school be safe? Dr. Stephen Turkovich is Chief Medical Officer at Oishei Children's Hospital. He said evidence shows going back to school could actually be a safer option.​

“When we closed down schools in March we really had no choice because we really didn't know a lot about the virus and how it's transmitted and what children's role was in that. We've learned a lot since then. We've learned that children through looking at daycares that remained open throughout the pandemic really are not transmitting it to each other or adults in a significant way,” said Dr. Turkovich.

He says we've also learned different safety measures that help prevent the virus from spreading like wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.​

“Looking at other countries that have gone back to school... There's many things that they've done that we're doing in society already that have been proven to decrease the risk of spreading COVID,” Dr. Turkovich said.

“They're going to be required to wear face coverings or a mask. We know that works. That helps mitigate virus spread,” Dr. Sean Croft, the superintendent of Starpoint Central Schools said.

Dr. Croft is on the state task force developing back-to-school guidelines. He said Starpoint conducted a survey in which 80% of parents in the district said they're ready for school to start in the fall.​

​“That tells me we have 20 percent or so of our parents that we're going to need to convince and sell that this is a safe environment for our children,” said

Dr. Croft said if kids don’t return to school, it could be detrimental.

​“We expect kids to come back with significant learning gaps from what happened over the last four months,” Dr. Croft said.

​“Not only the detriment to their learning, but also their physical, mental and social development has been challenged,” said Dr. Turkovich.

​Dr. Turkovich said those impacts will only get worse the longer kids are out of school. ​

​“The longer we go without interaction with classmates and other adults outside of the home, the more potential we're going to stunt children's social and emotional growth,” said Dr. Turkovich.

​"We know if children are back in school households are better off, but we have to do it in a safe way,” said Dr. Croft.