top of page
  • Trevor Greenway

Help keep schools open, kids healthy

The more time that young students spend online learning, the more symptoms of depression and anxiety they experience.

That’s according to a recent report from SickKids Hospital in Toronto that suggests more than 70 per cent of adolescents experienced “clinically significant depressive symptoms” during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, from February to March 2021. Scary.

Surely with the most recent lockdown that kept kids out of schools from the end of December through to Jan. 17, those stats are likely only getting worse. It’s no wonder that the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) has started recruiting stay-at-home parents, retirees and young professionals to help out in the schools. Because it’s absolutely key to our children’s mental health to keep the schools open.

There’s a lot at stake. Schools are economic drivers, and when schools close, we’re all affected. Those who have elementary-aged children are then forced to work from home, if they can, or take days, weeks and even months off of work.

But the ones who are really affected are the kids.

When we are all stuck at home, screen time for everyone naturally goes up. We’ve all been there at some point. When the important Zoom meeting happens at 4 p.m., but the kids are hungry, bored and it’s -27 C outside, naturally, Netflix, video games and Disney+ take over.

But the repercussions of this are too concerning to ignore. According to SickKids, across all 1,494 participants polled, increased time spent watching TV, on digital media and video games was associated with more “irritability, hyperactivity, inattention, depression and anxiety.” Parents often associate closed schools with negative impacts on students’ grades or on the transition to junior high or high school.