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We asked three Utah doctors if they're sending their kids back to school

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Dr. Suzanne Harrison — a physician anesthesiologist, a state lawmaker and a mother of three — said her children will be back in class. (Photo: KUTV)

Are doctors in Utah sending their children back to the classroom?

SIBLINGS CHOOSING DIFFERENT OPTIONS

Dr. Jordan Roberts, a family physician in Holladay, said there’s just as much variation in opinions among doctors as the public.

His daughter, who’s entering fourth grade, will return to class.

His 12-year-old son, however, will study from home, largely because he has asthma.

“I feel strongly that the data supports us in this decision — that it’s not safe for my son to return to school,” Roberts said. “He would be going to junior high school, switching classes in potentially crowded hallways in between periods.”

Roberts points out the latest research shows secondary students are just as likely as adults to transmit the virus. The risk seems to be lower for younger children.

His recommendation to most families is online or a hybrid option with small class sizes.

BACK TO CLASS FOR SOCIAL, MENTAL HEALTH REASONS

Dr. Suzanne Harrison — a physician anesthesiologist, a state lawmaker and a mother of three — said her children will be back in class.

She called it a “very hard decision” but feels the in-person instruction is a better learning environment.

“For our family, I think the socialization, the mental health aspect of reconnecting with kids and community and teachers is so important,” Harrison said.

She also suggested that people not judge families regardless of which option they choose.

“I encourage people to look at the health risks in their families, if they have a close loved one with significant medical issues or medical risks,” Harrison said.

‘CALCULATED RISK’ FOR TWO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

The third doctor — Dr. Richard Allen — is a family physician who’s also a medical director for a hospice program. He oversees the training of new doctors as well.

His two youngest daughters are in high school in the Granite School District, and they’ll be back in class.

“I think it’s a calculated risk,” Dr. Allen said, “and I want my kids to be in school even though I know that there’s still COVID around, there’s still a possibility that they may get sick, and it may endanger me and my family.”

“I believe it’s important for them to be in school,” he added, “and to learn how to mitigate that risk instead of just tightening up and keeping them home and hoping this will go away.”

He added many parents aren’t well-prepared for the online learning environment.

Among the precautions that Dr. Allen’s family is taking: having a mask, a backup mask and hand sanitizer; frequent hand washing; and avoiding close contact with others. He’s hopeful students who are sick — even thinking they may have the common cold — stay home.

Dr. Allen also encourages parents to explain to their kids how the virus could impact neighbors and family members so that they take it seriously.