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What to know about the AAP’s school reopening guidelines for the fall

It's less about their education and more about their mental health.

young child raising hand in class

After several months of distance learning, kids are settling into summer, but the continued spread of COVID-19 means this summer is likely going to look different from those that came before it. Parents want kids to be able to enjoy what they can during the warm months, but an anxiety lingers because many families don't know what will happen in September—when will school reopen for in-person classes?

The American Academy of Pediatrics hopes to see students in schools come September. In recently released guidance on school re-entry, the AAP "strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school."


Pediatricians, of course, want to keep kids healthy and protect them from COVID-19, but according to the AAP lawmakers, public health officials and school boards need to consider that keeping kids out of school has the potential to have a negative impact on their health and may not impact the spread of COVID-19.

"There is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020," the AAP notes.

The guidance continues: "Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality."

The pediatricians behind the guidance point to a growing body of evidence suggesting that COVID-19 appears to impact children and adolescents differently than other respiratory viruses and that while school children are spreaders of influenza outbreaks, kids don't appear to be the ones amplifying the spread of COVID-19.

"The preponderance of evidence indicates that children and adolescents are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe disease resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection," the AAP notes, adding that "children may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection. Policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families, and the community by keeping children at home."

Studies in France, Australia and the United Kingdom suggest the spread of COVID-19 between children is rare—kids usually catch it from an adult family member, not from other children. Studies indicate kids under 20 are about half as likely as adults over 20 to catch the coronavirus, and when kids do get COVID-19 they usually get a milder version.

Of course kids with compromised immune systems are more at risk for COVID-19, but the research to date indicates that it isn't as dangerous to most children as it is to other populations.

That's why the AAP's guidance suggests that kids can be seated as closely as 3-feet apart "particularly if students are wearing face coverings and are asymptomatic". They want the kids in the schools and parents, well, not.

"Strategies to increase adult-adult physical distance in time and space should be implemented, such as staggered drop-offs and pickups, and drop-offs and pickups outside when weather allows," the guidance reads. "Parents should, in general, be discouraged from entering the school building. Physical barriers, such as plexiglass, should be considered in reception areas and employee workspaces where the environment does not accommodate physical distancing, and congregating in shared spaces, such as staff lounge areas, should be discouraged."

The idea that medical professionals believe our children could be back in school soon is good news for families who have struggled with distance learning and a lack of childcare, and the AAP's guidance comes as several states are dealing with spikes in COVID-19 cases and global fatalities pass 500,000. This doesn't bode well for schools reopening, as New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressed during an appearance on NBC's Meet The Press Sunday.

Addressing moderator Chuck Todd, who noted how New York has yet to make a call on whether kids will be in the classrooms come fall, Gov. Cuomo said he is planning to have kids return to school soon, but that spikes in COVID-19 cases could delay school re-entry plans.

"This is complicated so let's get the facts and we'll make the decision when we have to. If this continues across the country, you're right, Chuck, kids are going to be home for a long time." Cuomo explained.

Cuomo's counterpart in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom, ordered bars in seven counties to close to stop the spread of COVID-19, a move that his government hopes will protect school re-entry plans. In California, schools are being directed to provide "in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible" during the 2020-2021 school year as per Bill AB-77.

Other states are hoping for the same. Alabama's State Superintendent says schools will reopen in September. New Hampshire's plan is focused on getting kids back into buildings. Massachusetts just announced its plan for school re-entry—with kids and teachers will be wearing masks and desks will be 6 feet apart (despite the AAP saying that's not necessary). Connecticut, too, has kids coming back in September but sitting 6 feet apart. New Jersey is eyeing alternating days of attendance to keep class sizes down.

The AAP stresses that returning to school won't be easy, but that is vitally important for the health of America's children and teens.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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