Seems we’ve come full circle. In June, hope was strong for a return to 5-day, in-person schooling come fall, but that quickly morphed into the hybrid model for many: 2 days in-school, 3 days home on a screen. But now even that is pretty much off the table, prompted by fearful push back, including from teachers willing to strike to stay home.

The result: Across America, countless schools will remain shuttered, relying on full-on virtual instruction, amounting to about about six hours a day, five days a week of screen time.

Be glad you’re not a kid right now.

Enter Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant Health and Human Services secretary for mental health and substance abuse. She writes:

I am a psychiatrist, and I know the grave consequences of not sending our children to school. I know that pre-pandemic, about 10% of our nation’s 74 million children lived with serious emotional disturbances, and more than half of these children get their mental health services in school… I know that unlike what we have seen in the vast majority of children who have contracted COVID-19, the impact of untreated mental illness can be lifelong…

I also think about the children who do not have these severe conditions but who rely on social interaction with their peers, who need the aid of a teacher to learn—what will their future be? As a physician, I agree with the Academy of Pediatrics. I have not even a small doubt that children should be in school. But I’m not writing this from that perspective only,

Rather, I write as a mom… Parenting is about weighing risks and benefits as we make decisions for out children. Every decision… is about you as a parent weighing those risks and benefits and deciding what is best for your child.

This one, arguably one of the most important ones—not just where your children will be educated but whether they will be—has been taken from you…

When a school is closed, the message is that your child’s education is less important then the risk of COVID-19, that mental health services are less important than the risk of COID-19. It tells you that the risk of your child getting poor nutrition is less important than the risk of COVID-19. It tells you that your child’s special needs provided for in school are less important than the risk of COVID-19. It tells you that your ability to go to work and feed your family is less important than the risk of COVID-19…

All parents may not elect to make the decision I would make, but all parents should be afforded the opportunity to decide…

Is she right on or way off base, as the 2020-2021 school year begins mostly at home?

With thanks and well wishes, Carol