Schools must fully reopen on January 17

As pediatricians and clinicians working with children and adolescents, who unfortunately have neither the right to vote nor a union to defend them, we felt a duty to be their spokesmen.

Many of us are concerned about the impact of school closures on their well-being for the third year in a row. It is imperative that this closure ends on January 17th at the latest.

Education is a basic need for children and should be a priority. It is well established that the quality of distance education cannot be compared with face-to-face, and that learning delays accumulate. The negative effects of school closures (even temporary) on several levels: learning, food, school dropout, screen dependence, and many physical and mental health problems. Currently, the measures taken to control the spread of the virus appear to be more harmful to children than the virus itself.

From an epidemiological standpoint, the data shows that closing schools during other waves of the epidemic has been an ineffective strategy. Studies in places where schools have been open since May 2020 show that cases of COVID-19 in schools mirror cases in the community, but there is little transmission within schools. Schools are safe and controlled environments where health measures are in place. Additionally, teachers were no more likely than other adults in the community to contract COVID-19.

An increase in hospital admissions among children associated with COVID-19 was recently announced. Concretely, this represents about fifty children across the county. Children in hospital are not very sick, are often admitted for other reasons and often have a short hospital stay. Recent data show that the risk of hospitalization associated with the Omicron variant is lower than the Delta variant, in both children and adults. It is important to note that children regularly fall victim to viral infections that affect them more severely than COVID-19.

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In addition, the fifth wave comes when the vaccination rate of 12 years and over is 89.6%. The proportion of teachers and vulnerable populations who are appropriately vaccinated is over 95%. We must now reassure teachers about the vaccine’s effectiveness, as well as encourage them to get their third dose. Even with two doses of the vaccine, we are partially protected against infection, but we are very well protected from severe forms of the virus.

And as far as the children and their families are concerned, the breaking point has been reached. Taking children hostage by mortgaging their future should not be an option. Mr Legault, it’s time to show the public that education really is a priority by reopening our schools on January 17, and that this will be the last time schools will be closed.

Dr. Veronese Charst (and 185+ sites)

Pediatrician

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