500 pediatricians sign open letter urging COVID-19 safety measures

MADISON (WKOW) — Nearly 500 pediatricians, physicians and other health care providers from across Wisconsin are coming together in an open letter to parents and schools.

That open letter, which is complete below, urges masking and other COVID-19 pandemic security measures as part of the return to personal learning. The return to school also comes as the delta variant causes COVID-19 cases and deaths to increase.

“Children are our most valuable resource and we must do everything we can to keep them safe when they return to class,” says Dr. Ellen Wald, chair of the division of pediatrics, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and infectious disease physician at UW Health. “Personal learning is important for our children. This letter is about how we can work together – parents, teachers, schools and caregivers – to get to school safely and positively this year.”

Read the full letter to parents here:

As caregivers and physicians, we have dedicated our lives to protecting and improving the health of children throughout Wisconsin and our many communities.

As this latest wave of COVID-19 coincides with the start of the school, we are faced with a new and crucial challenge. Our children benefit greatly from a return to personal education. But we have to make sure those schools are safe.

The good news is that we can. We’ve learned so much in the past year about this virus — prevention, treatment, and how to manage our facilities and our interactions to prevent its rapid spread. That knowledge offers us a clear path forward.

The challenge is that we can only do it by working together.

Our children have no say in school district policy. And most of our children don’t yet have access to the added protection of a vaccine. That’s why it’s so important for school boards, school administrators, teachers and parents to come together behind some simple, science-backed and proven methods to get our children safely back into the classroom.

– We have to put on a mask. Studies show that universal masking prevents the spread of COVID-19 and that masks are safe for children as young as 2 years old. Universal masking allows custom quarantine in certain cases, which should increase personal presence. It’s just the most important thing we can do right now to make sure our schools are safe.

– Keep 3 feet away between people whenever possible. Whether in classrooms, hallways or buses, a small amount of physical distance goes a long way in preventing the virus from spreading. Where keeping distance is not possible, wearing a mask is becoming increasingly important.

– Those who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated. That includes parents, teachers, staff, and all those kids ages 12 and up. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and the most powerful tool we have in our efforts to end this long pandemic.

– Follow simple public health recommendations. Wash your hands, cover up your coughs, and keep your kids home when they’re sick.

Our children have to go to school. And our schools must be safe for our children. We know that this can be done with great effect and without great disruption.

It may seem like these pandemic restrictions will last forever, but they aren’t. We’ll pass here. But until we do, our hope lies with all of you and in our ability to work together for a safe, happy and effective return to school.

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