Schools should reopen 100% to support children’s mental health, pediatric task force warns

100% reopening of schools must remain a priority to protect children’s mental health in the long term, says the Belgian Pediatric Covid-19 Task Force.

The Consultation Committee decided on Wednesday that schools will only partially reopen, following the same rules as for the Easter break, but the working group has demanded the full opening of schools.

“Schools participated in a collective social effort by closing their doors a week before the Easter holidays. The aim was to bring the epidemiological situation back to a more favorable level, so that schools could reopen 100%, but society as a whole did not play a part. We can speak of a social failure, ”the group of medical experts in the field said Monday in Le Soir.

From Monday, pupils in the second and third stages of secondary education (15-18 years) can only physically attend school part-time, while part-time distance learning still exists.

The Task Force acknowledged that the numbers are not evolving favorably, but argued that education should remain an absolute priority as they play a vital role “not only in the academic training of students, but also in supporting their bio-psycho-social health.”

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“Our health services are overwhelmed with worrying health problems among young people: suicide attempts and self-mutilation, mental anorexia, depression, severe anxiety, family violence, obesity and many others,” the group warned.

The experts added that balancing the benefits and risks of going to school requires that schools reopen 100% to all young people as soon as possible and that their “essential function of supporting youth resilience be strengthened”.

It added that the measures to combat the coronavirus being implemented in schools so as not to “completely overwhelm” hospitals are still necessary, highlighting that additional measures have been taken in schools in terms of testing and tracking with the advent of self-testing to reinforce this strategy.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times

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