(TargetLiberty.org) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that COVID-19 poses a low risk to school-aged children. Kids under the age of 18 are responsible for just 7% of coronavirus cases and less than 0.1% of related deaths.
The real dangers for children lie in keeping the schools shut. Here are the top five reasons why schools must open this fall:
The Learning Process
The longer kids are kept out of school, the more it harms them. It can be especially bad for children who have heightened behavioral needs. Teachers often talk about the “summer slide.” This is the loss of academic progress following summer breaks. Elementary school kids have been shown to lose nearly 20% in reading and 27% in math over the summer. It gets even worse for older students. This is just what kids lose in a few weeks of summer vacation. Imagine the losses over the many months of not being in the classroom due to the coronavirus shutdown.
Closing the schools is especially problematic for minority and low-income students and students with disabilities. In many cases, low-income families do not have access to computers or the internet. So they miss out on distance learning altogether. Kids with special needs don’t absorb the information as well with remote learning as they do with in-class teachers.
The Development of Emotional and Social Skills
Schools are about much more than just book learning. They also promote the development of emotional and social skills. Many of these can only be learned in an in-person school environment.
In school, children learn how to navigate friendships, behave in groups, and interact with people outside of their families. They can depend on support systems to manage their emotions. Going to school allows kids to set and reach positive goals, and it helps them to appreciate other perspectives. These types of connections are virtually impossible with distance learning.
The Department of Health and Human Services says that teachers and other school staff were responsible for reporting more than one out of every five cases of child abuse. Without school, many kids are trapped in situations of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. During the coronavirus school closures, there’s been a sharp decline in abuse reports. During this same time, there’s been a notable increase in abuse evidence when kids are seen for services, like in the emergency room.
For millions of American kids, school is where they get their nutritional needs met. Nearly 15 million students participate in the School Breakfast Program, and more than 30 million kids are part of the National School Lunch Program. The lack of nutrition with schools closed is particularly problematic for low-income students who may not have other access to healthy foods. An estimated 11 million food-insecure kids are living in the US.
Another major problem caused by the school shutdown is that kids lose access to physical activity. They’re missing out on physical education (PE), school activities, and sports. The truth is, over 75% of American children do not meet the daily physical activity guidelines — and half are too sedentary. This is especially true during school closures. Doctors are now estimating childhood obesity rates may go up by 2.4% if schools stay closed through December.
For the health, safety, and well-being of our children, the schools must reopen. The best available research shows that COVID-19 poses low risks to kids. The dangers involved in keeping the schools closed are much greater.
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