KAWARTHA LAKES-The Canadian Paediatric Society is calling on the Ontario government to develop a plan to safely open schools and immediately reopen outdoor recreation spaces.
The Society penned an open letter and posted it to Twitter on Friday saying “We cannot overstate the extent of the mental health crisis facing our children and youth. Our clinics and hospitals are overrun with families seeking care for children and youth in distress.”
The letter is signed by three doctors who are on the board. The Ontario government closed schools to in-class learning in early April and imposed restrictions on outdoor activities as well citing rising cases Coronavirus. After some backlash playgrounds were allowed to reopen but many basketball courts, baseball diamonds and soccer fields remain off limits.
The letter went on to say, “Research tells that only a small minority of children with mental distress present for help.There are untold more we are not seeing.”
The doctors point to a study by Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto that found 70% of school-aged children reported deterioration of mental health and says social isolation is by far the biggest predictor poor mental health for children, and it’s completely preventable.
“We are calling on the government to immediately re-open outdoor recreation spaces unless you have data showing these venues are sources of transmission. Mobilize plans to safely reopen schools before the end of the 2020-2021 school year.”
Meanwhile the Association of Local Public Health Agencies representing Medical Officers Of Health is calling for all restrictions to remain in place. In their own letter to the government they say “we must rely in minimizing transmission by limiting interpersonal contact until such a time as the metrics we have been using to guide our decisions thus far reflect solid epidemiological evidence that transmission and the risks of severe outcomes are low enough. Now is not the time.”
The mission of public health is to enable informed decisions and actions that protect and promote health and contribute to reducing health inequities. The health of all not just those with COVID-19.
The Paediatric Society urged the government to put a higher priority on kids mental health and wellbeing.
“Ontario’s children and youth depend on all of us to protect them from not just COVID-19, but from the devastating effects of these public health measures.”
The government has not indicated when or if schools will reopen this year.