To the editor and residents:
We need schools open. Schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents.
In addition to reading, writing and math, children learn social and emotional skills, get exercise and access to mental health support and other things that cannot be provided with online learning.
For some families, school is where kids get healthy meals, access to the internet and other vital services.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.
The profound negative impact of loss of in-person schooling on the well-being of children has been well documented. There is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. 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.
The AAP’s guidance to reopen schools is based on what pediatricians and infectious disease specialists know about COVID-19 and kids.
Evidence so far suggests that children and adolescents are less likely to have symptoms or severe disease from infection. They also appear less likely to become infected or spread the virus.
The AAP have published practices to promote safe interaction including screening, distancing, personal protective equipment and cleaning. I am thankful that there are online options for those students whose parents feel strongly about keeping their kids home.
While I am concerned about the physical health risks, I am equally concerned about the mental health risks associated with not reopening. Students fall behind in learning and many, including my teenager, struggle to maintain motivation and interest in learning online.
While it is impossible to eliminate all physical risk, using reasonable precautions, we still drive our cars, buy groceries and visit the doctor.
The social, emotional and academic cost of keeping kids home from school is clearly negative.
I urge Lindbergh Schools and other public schools to implement five-day-a-week in-person schooling, while providing online instruction for those who choose it.