Second Wave of School Closures Is Killing Our Children

We know how many people have died from the coronavirus. We know how many people have tested positive for it. We know which states have the most cases. We even know how many people are in hospitals because of it. The numbers are shoved down our throats by the media daily and are being used to justify a new wave of lockdowns and school closures as 2020 winds down.

There’s no question the coronavirus is harmful to some people — chiefly elderly people and those with preexisting conditions. But the lockdowns have been deadly, too — a portion of the narrative that has conveniently been left out of the conversation. Children are especially prone to the unintended consequences.

Unfortunately, I have seen the negative effects of the lockdowns firsthand. I’ve had preteen patients fall into despair and attempt suicide, in part, because of loneliness and lack of resources that are typically offered by schools when open. I’m not alone in witnessing the horrific trend in child suicides.

It’s naive to think that the only thing that happens in a school is learning. Schools provide students with socialization, counseling, lunches, physical activity, speech therapy, and many other programs that are essential for the health and well-being of children. When school is closed, students only have access to the learning aspect of school. And there is plenty of evidence that suggests students are failing to learn while studying online.

Perhaps the video games are receiving extra attention.

Students have been left unsupervised without the other resources schools provide. Not only are children losing out on a sound education, but the lockdowns are taking years off their lives; a drop in classroom instruction is typically associated with a lower life expectancy. Researchers at the University of Washington recently found that the closure of primary schools during the pandemic could amount to more than 5 million years of life lost for children.

Others have confirmed some students went without lunch and struggled to find mental health support because of the lockdowns. These challenges were particularly detrimental to children in low-income families who otherwise don’t have access to these resources. The school lockdowns have triggered an “epidemic of educational poverty,” according to researchers from University College London.

The adverse effects of school lockdowns may have been unclear when state and local governments struggled to respond to the novel coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic, but the consequences are now well known. The American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance as early as June that strongly advised all policy considerations to begin with the goal of having students physically attend class. The academy noted that schools are not likely to be the source of COVID-19 outbreaks — a hypothesis that has been proven true.

I’m not the only physician who has made this point. It’s easy to find pediatric doctors sounding the alarm about the harmful consequences of school closures. In fact, I was one of over 1,500 physicians who signed on to a petition earlier this year highlighting the importance of schools remaining open. But our calls to balance concerns around the coronavirus and the well-being of children are now being ignored.

For the sake of our future, schools that have yet again shut down must reopen. We cannot continue to ignore the advice of medical experts to leave our children sequestered behind a computer screen. Children need the socialization, nutritious lunches, physical activity, and counseling that schools provide. The school lockdowns must end.

Dr. Molly Rutherford is an independent physician practicing in Kentucky and is a member of the Job Creators Network.

Author: Molly Rutherford

Source: Washington Examiner: Second wave of school closures is killing our children

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