CHANDLER, AZ — As schools begin to slowly re-open for in-person learning, districts big and small have chosen to bring in the youngest students first as part of their phased-in approach.
Last week Chandler Unified School District made that call, and this week the Deer Valley Unified School District did the same, except they've also decided to bring in high school seniors as well.
Dr. Raun Melmed, a developmental pediatrician with the Melmed Center in north Phoenix, explains why the push is more than just academics.
"There's definitely a peak of acquirement at this age, the social-emotional skills about how to navigate different social situations, how to communicate effectively with their peers...how to take insults, how to take compliments... that's practice for real-life situations," says Dr. Melmed.
Katey McPherson, a former school administrator, agrees. She says, "Simple things like rote memorizations and holding a pencil and gross motor skills -- things that we take for granted as adults -- those being lost, would be hard to catch up on. And so getting them back in the classroom soon is top of mind."
Last week we introduced you to Londyn, a kindergartner at CTA Goodman in the Chandler Unified School District. She's going back to a brick-and-mortar building starting on Monday.
Molly Viger, Londyn's mother, says, "I think kindergarten is really important. The first thing they learn is how to interact with kids, be around people, and she's missing out on that."
Dr. Raun Melmed says while not perfect, the process of "getting kids back into the classroom" safely is definitely a priority.
"We know now what to expect, we know now what to do and that's going to be a game-changer for schools, being able to adapt that much more easily," he adds.