In an interview with Axios, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in reference to children who have been out of school for months, “kids are resilient and kids will recover.”
Axios’ Dan Primack asked, “Is there a point — and maybe you think we’re already past it — is there a point in which kids have been out of in-person school for so long that the education that they’ve lost isn’t really recoverable, that the third grade, the fourth grade, the kindergarten they lost, they can take extra semesters in the summer; they can do [that], but it can’t really be fixed?”
“No,” said Weingarten, whose union is the second largest teacher’s union in America, representing 1.7 million teachers. “I don’t believe that. I believe that kids are resilient and kids will recover. But we as adults have to meet their needs. Their emotional needs, their social needs, their learning needs.”
“And that’s who America’s educators are,” she said. “That’s who America’s bus drivers are. That’s who America’s paraprofessionals are. That’s who America’s food service workers are. And we are pained about what has happened in this pandemic. The crises that have enveloped our kids, our communities, ourselves.”
“But at the end of the day, we have to believe that this is recoverable,” she added. “And we have to believe that virtually all our kids will thrive with the opportunities that we’ve put before them.”
.@danprimack: Is there a point at which kids' lost education isn't recoverable?
AFT president @rweingarten: "No, I don't believe that. I believe that kids are resilient and kids will recover. But we as adults have to meet their needs." #AxiosOnHBO pic.twitter.com/Dc4H0Hherc
— Axios (@axios) February 22, 2021
The New York Post reported on February 8 about a spike in suicides in a Las Vegas school district:
A Las Vegas school district saw such a spike in suicide numbers, it rushed forward its reopening plan. The superintendent explained to The New York Times, “When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn’t just the COVID numbers we need to look at anymore. We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They’ve got to start seeing some movement, some hope.”…
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children’s mental-health-related visits to emergency rooms are up by as much as a third, compared to 2019 figures.
J.D. Friedman, a clinical psychologist, told the Post that for children predisposed to mental illnesses like depression, anxiety or OCD, the lockdowns of schools “can absolutely tip the scales to full-blown pathology.”
In January, Forbes reported on children’s mental health having “deteriorated” as a result of the pandemic lockdowns:
Children’s mental health has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic, according to a study on the wellbeing of Generation Z for the Education Policy Institute (EPI), a U.K.-based think tank, and the Prince’s Trust, the youth charity founded by Prince Charles. Relationships with family and friends, family background, use of social media and physical exercise were all identified as key drivers of young people’s mental health that had been adversely affected by the lockdown.
In early February, after noting the suicide of a high school graduate from Las Vegas, Nevada, NPR reported:
[T]he sudden rise in deaths has school district officials worried that the coronavirus pandemic may have played a role. And educators and mental health care providers in other parts of the United States have the same concern. In recent months, many suicidal children have been showing up in hospital emergency departments, and more kids are needing in-patient care after serious suicide attempts. … NPR spoke with providers at hospitals in seven states across the country, and all of them reported a similar trend: More suicidal children are coming to their hospitals — in worse mental states.