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School closures have negative impacts on children in many different ways

“The events and influences in childhood and adolescence have long-lasting impacts on the health and well-being of youth."

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By Georgia Lambert via SWNS

School closures have had a negative impact on children in many different ways - going beyond academics, warns a new study.

Enforced online learning during COVID-19 lockdowns has led to a host of consequences for youngsters including disengagement, mental health challenges, unhealthy weight gain, food insecurity - and even an increase in new-onset Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Danielle Dooley, medical director of Community Affairs and Population Health in the Child Health Advocacy Institute at the Children's National Hospital, said: “The toll that school closures and social isolation have had on kids’ mental health cannot be overstated.

“As the latest Omicron wave has shown, these discussions are not behind us. We must continue to fully weigh how each decision can impact the lives of children.”

Pupils raising their hands during class at the elementary school
(ESB Professional/ Shutterstock)

In a new report, Dr. Dooley worked with other experts from the Hospital in Washington to review the impacts of school closures, and they have urged that a balance is needed between measures to contain COVID-19, while "supporting the physical and mental health of kids."

Dr. Dooley said: “The events and influences in childhood and adolescence have long-lasting impacts on the health and well-being of youth."

When considering that COVID-19 could become endemic, Dr. Dooley stressed the importance of continually assessing the impact of how the pandemic is affecting the youth.

This includes how the last two years have impacted education, health care access and disparities, family stress, and functioning, among others.

In the report, Dr. Dooley said changes need to be made at the practice, research, policy, systems, and school infrastructure levels.

The researchers explain that while children are resilient, resiliency requires systemic support, investment, and more research into the short, medium, and long-term impacts on children.

The Children’s National Hospital continues to be a leader in addressing these impacts.

Smart little Caucasian girl child sit at table study at laptop make notes write in notebook, small schoolgirl handwrite prepare homework assignment at home, distant education concept
(Sun Shock/ Shutterstock)

From clinical care to partnerships and collaboration with local school systems and community-based organizations, the Children’s National takes a "holistic approach" to meet the needs of children and their families.

With funding from the United Health Foundation, Children’s National has deployed its Mobile Medical Unit, which delivers vaccination services and visits to children.

Dr. Hope Rhodes, the medical director for the Mobile Medical Program, said: “This is a critical part of the pandemic response, both to ensure children do not fall further behind in immunizations and to provide additional access point options for families to receive immunizations.”

The report was published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal.

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