April 19th, 2021

As the end of the school year comes to a close, we all need to reflect on the 2020/21 school year and what we must change moving forward in the fall.

The most obvious answer is that children must be in school in person this fall. At 3 plus million vaccines given per day, the vast majority of at risk Americans will have had the opportunity to accept a vaccine for self protection including all teachers and school based employees by the fall. It remains clear that vaccinated or not, children are not the major concern for pandemic spread or serious disease. Thus, it makes little sense to even consider school virtually this fall for our children unless there is an extenuating circumstance like active immune suppression or known high risk disease.

For many of our school children, screen time has ballooned in exposure via virtual learning and video/gaming activities. We must actively limit these events back to pre COVID norms. I recommend no non school based screen time during the active school week, i.e. from Sunday 5pm until Friday at 5 pm. This will go along way toward reversing the ills of excessive screen usage.

We must revert back to daily physical activity at school and at home to stem the tide of obesity, mental mood decline and general health.

We need to have comprehensive assessments of all students educational status. Much was lost this past year and some more than others have fallen way behind. We must take a hard look at them and work tirelessly to get them caught up.

Psychosocial assessments of all students would also be uniquely beneficial post pandemic and pre summer break. Many children are suffering from the mental stresses of the lockdowns, isolation and lack of friendship exposure. This summer would be an ideal time to engage children in small group events to foster belonging and offer a like minded peer influenced way to reduce stress.

Finally, we need to take a hard look at school nutrition and focus on a food first mentality. Whole healthy food types should be served at school as opposed to the current lower quality mass produced processed foods.

 

Dr. M