In a press release on July 15, 2020, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) emphasized the importance of precautions during the coming school year given the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The APA and AACAP offered 8 recommendations for school reopening plans. The first recommendation stated that public health agencies need to tailor their plans to the needs of students, teachers, and staff based on the available scientific evidence. The press release noted that any return to school necessitates appropriate protections for all community members.

The statement also called for school systems to maintain social interactions in the absence of classroom-based education. Additionally, school systems need to ensure fairness and equity in terms of “sufficient access to equipment, services, and technology, to address systemic and/or cultural disadvantages in educational and mental health supports.”

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The APA and AACAP highlighted the need to provide specific resources to children with special needs, including those with emotional, learning, or physical disabilities, who may be at higher risk of slipping behind or falling through the cracks. They noted that children in foster care, as well as those experiencing poverty or for whom English is a second language, ought to receive special attention. The joint press release also emphasized the necessity of addressing student mental health, as well as the wellbeing of staff, educators, and parents coordinating home learning.

Lastly, the recommendations included a call for greater financial support for schools and their communities during the COVID-19-related school closures. The press release also noted that schools need to create “effective systems for the early identification of and intervention for the increased number of high-risk students” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Readers can see the full press release on the APA website.


Needs of students during the COVID-19 era: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and American Psychiatric Association (APA) detail steps necessary for safely reopening schools this fall. Press Release. American Psychiatric Association and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; July 15, 2020. Accessed July 16, 2020.

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor