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From the data available, it looks like closing schools is more harmful than keeping them open (especially elementary schools).

This NY Times article makes an argument for spending more on school accommodations allowing them to open over the distance learning that is becoming the rule.

For elementary schools, it appears that teachers and family members are not at extra risk for virus transmission

Affluent schools and neighborhoods have a different population of students, more resources and better distance learning outcomes than poor districts.  Poor districts are suffering more domestic violence & substance abuse from from front line worker stress, poverty and job loss making online learning that much harder for children.  Many kids are not taking this kind of education seriously & their homelife is exacerbating this growing problem.

Many poor families are crowded into small spaces, lacking necessary internet access and hardware for adequate online learning.

The NY Times article barely acknowledges the social and economic costs of abused and neglected children locked into toxic homes during COVID.  Abused children have no teacher or other mandated reporter to recognize and respond to their traumas.  There is no comparison to having a trusted teacher to privately speak to in school and a video chat with the abuser in the room or nearby.

Pre COVID, 37% of American youth were being reported to Child Protective Services by their 18th birthday.  Today, with very little transparency or reporting, domestic violence and child abuse are growing because families are experiencing more stress, substance abuse and poverty.

COVID is creating communities of mental health crisis with no path to way to stop it or resources to heal the trauma.

Without in person classes, traumatized children are stuck at home with their abuser and unable to find a mandated reporter or trusted adult to help them find safety.

The social and economic costs of a failing elementary school experience and weeks, months or years of childhood trauma inflicted at home, will be with the child and the community forever.  More dropouts, crime, teen and preteen pregnancies & growing crime and recidivism rates (90% at nine years in the prison system today).

It is far less expensive and much more kind, healthy and practical to react early and give children the ability to experience a normal life (the kind of life within a classroom) and the safety of a teacher they can ask for help than it will be to ignore this growing population of abused and traumatized children.

We need to know more and we need to do more.  Lawmakers and the media need to know about this.  Help KARA spread the word – write or call your state representative and stand up for education where you live.

 

This article submitted by KARA board member Mike Tikkanen

 

 

 

 

 

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