The country's top association of pediatricians urged lawmakers and community leaders to carefully weigh the challenges that lie ahead for school reopening plans this upcoming academic year.
A statement released Friday by the American Academy of Pediatrics signaled a turn by the group away from the aggressive reopening plans held by President Donald Trump's administration.
"A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions," the letter read in an apparent pivot from a statement that last month said decision-makers should aim to have "students physically present in school" for the upcoming year.
Last week, Trump clashed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over its guidelines for schools reopening.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new warning for lawmakers and community leaders looking to reopen schools that they must follow "science" and "evidence, not politics."
The group — along with educators and superintendents — wrote in an open letter posted Friday that though "children learn best when physically present in the classroom," public agencies "must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers, and staff."
The letter was cosigned by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and AASA, the School Superintendents Association.
"A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions," the letter read in an apparent pivot from its emphasizing in a statement late last month that decision-makers should aim to have "students physically present in school" for the upcoming year.
The group's apparent support for pushing for classes to resume with students in classrooms lines up with President Donald Trump's aggressive sidelining of "very tough" guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for schools reopening, even threatening on Twitter to "cut off funding" for school districts that don't reopen soon.
In addition to the group's previous messaging matching the administration's, AAP President Dr. Sally Goza was present at the White House's "Summit on Safely Reopening America's Schools" on July 7.
The CDC's current guidelines for reopening schools include added measures like more space between students' desks, barriers between sinks in bathrooms, and shutting down common spaces. Education officials from districts across the country have aired concerns that most schools don't have the funding or resources to comply with the guidelines.
"We are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open," Trump said at a briefing earlier this week. "It's very important for our country, it's very important for the well being of the student and the parents."
The letter said the US "response to COVID-19 has laid bare inequities and consequences for children that must be addressed," and the group then called on Congress to divert funding to schools that are struggling to secure the necessary resources to reopen safely.
"Reopening schools in a way that maximizes safety, learning, and the well-being of children, teachers, and staff will clearly require substantial new investments in our schools and campuses," the letter read. "We call on Congress and the administration to provide the federal resources needed to ensure that inadequate funding does not stand in the way of safely educating and caring for children in our schools."
Plans for reopening in school districts across the US are still largely unclear as officials have weighed the possibilities of different approaches including in-person, remote learning, and a hybrid approach of both that would bring students into classrooms in limited numbers.
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