Doctors say ‘Health means more than just the absence of COVID-19’ for children

If there is anything parents have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, it is the importance of personalized learning for children. According to American Academy of Pediatrics.

While new COVID cases are declining rapidly across the country, hospitalizations are peaking and deaths are still increasing, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In November 2021, a vaccine approved for emergency use for children ages 5 to 11 was set to help restore some semblance of normality to children when it comes to school, extracurricular activities or play again. But Omicron had other plans.

Dr. Lucy McBride, a physician in Washington, D.C., and a medical contributor to Yahoo News, is one of 13 medical experts who developed ‘Children, COVID and the urgency of normal’ toolkit As a guide to help restore a sense of normalcy to children in schools after an omicron increase.

(Some responses have been modified for clarity).

Yahoo News: At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, why is there an urgent need to restore a sense of normalcy for children?

Dr. Lucy McBride: General surgeon as well American Pediatric Association He and other expert groups have declared a child mental health emergency because of evidence that levels of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, emergency room visits for suicide attempts, substance use disorder, and general despair in children age 18 and younger are at high levels.

This is happening at the same time that we are living through a pandemic where children are being deprived of their normal social and emotional coping skills or tools, and they are denied a normal life at school. It is important to realize that some children suffer from COVID-19 itself. Some suffer the loss of a loved one to the virus. However, some children experience a loss of security and safety in their daily lives.

Going back to school won’t heal every child’s wounds, and it won’t be an overnight cure for 22 months of living in a pandemic. But getting back to normal is a fair, fair, and intelligent way to help children begin to heal the wounds of living a traumatic experience.

How are generally healthy children affected by COVID-19?

Covid poses a very small threat of serious illness to students in highly vaccinated communities and to students who have vaccinated themselves. COVID is a Flu-like dangers For unvaccinated children, new data shows us that even Unvaccinated children under 5 You take very few risks for serious results. This doesn’t mean we haven’t lost children to COVID-19. Tragically, we have. That is to say, the vast majority of children who contract COVID-19 recover fully.

What are the risks of children getting ‘long COVID’?

Prolonged COVID is a rare complication of COVID-19 infection and is obviously a concern for children. studiesDespite this, they have consistently found that post-infection symptoms are similar in children with COVID-19, compared to children who have had infections other than COVID. The protracted COVID is an area in which we need more research. But most public health officials and doctors I spoke with don’t think we should regulate schools and restrictions around the possibility of this very rare complication.

What should the bigger picture of children’s health look like?

Children need to start restoring more normalcy, and ideally a better one, because COVID is only one threat to their health and well-being. Unfortunately, children can get COVID, and they can get very sick. Tragically, children died of COVID-19. But health is more than just the absence of COVID-19. Health includes social and emotional connections. Health includes going to school, feeling safe and, in many cases, nutrition. So it is important that as we transition, gradually and in different parts of the country at different times, to endemicity, that we adjust our policies in conjunction with the development of the pandemic.

What are the possible political solutions?

Thirteen experts in public health and medicine [including McBride] all over the country createdUrgent need for regular school advocacy toolkit To help school policy makers and anyone who makes decisions about schools understand the facts in order to make balanced and accurate decisions, and understand that health is more than just the absence of COVID-19 for schoolchildren.

Our recommendations are:

1) Continue to encourage vaccination of all eligible children, particularly where vaccination rates are the lowest.

2) Continuing to modernize the school ventilation systems. We know that crowded and poorly ventilated places are where the coronavirus likes to spread the most.

3) We recommend discontinuing asymptomatic testing and contact tracing. There is ample evidence that this does not significantly reduce transmission within the school setting, and this data is supported by the Policy Lab of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

4) We also recommend returning children to normal socialization at lunchtime. Free time is critical to the social, emotional and personal development of children, and after two years of virtual learning and social distancing, it is time to cultivate childhood friendships and strengthen bonds in our school community through socialization.

5) We recommend removing mask mandates in schools following the Omicron increase and when local hospitalization rates are low. For example, less than 10 per 100,000, and in the meantime, continue to encourage vaccination, encourage sick people to stay home and encourage people who want to continue wearing masks to wear a well-fitted N95 respirator, which protects the wearer and does not depend on the behavior of other people around them.

6) Finally, we recommend expanding mental health services in schools. Getting out of two years of trauma will require significant resources, including animal support and compassionate leadership from in-school counselors. This will be to minimize the long-term impact on the students’ mental and physical health.

The toolkit aims to assist everyone who needs to make important evidence-based decisions in schools, whether that be teachers, mentors, school administrators or policy makers in schools. It is supposed to give people a framework for making complex decisions. As clinicians and scientists, our goal is to inform people of accurate data, put it in context and provide guidance, not tell people what to do. We hope that people will take this information, give it to their communities, and share it with others as we navigate this complex time together.

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