By Tim Hunt
School shutdowns have been devastating for studentsUploaded: Mar 16, 2021
Reports are piling up that demonstrate the huge toll school lockdowns are having on students.
A report from the non-profit group FAIR Health analyzed pediatric mental health using its database of more than 32 million private health care claims and compared monthly changes from January to November 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.
The findings are staggering.
Claims for intentional self-harm were up 91% in March 2020 in teen-agers from 13-18. It nearly doubled in April 2020, the first full month of lockdown.
Other mental health claims in three categories also were up more than 90% year-over-year.
Northeast claims for self-harm claims were up 333.9% year-over-year in April. That was the highest total by far of any region or age-group studied by the group. Other mental health claims in three categories also were up more than 90% year-over-year.
Nationally, the trends were awful. Claims for overdoes rose 95% in March and 119% in April, while substance abuse disorders also increased as a percentage of all medical claims in those months (65% in March and 63% in April.)
And that doesn’t take in account the other damage such as educational achievement that correlates directly to lifetime earnings and lifespan. Both will suffer, particularly for Black and Brown students and/or students in low-income homes.
Given these devasting effects, it will be good to see all Pleasanton students back in school this week if their parents choose. Dublin and Livermore have set dates this month while San Ramon Valley already has been back kindergarten through sixth with middle and high school to follow now that Contra Costa is in the red tier. It’s also great that San Ramon Valley trustees have directed the district staff to prepare for full in-person schooling in the fall.
With the recall deadline for signatures looming tomorrow and parents very frustrated by the intransience of the big-city teachers’ unions to return to the classroom, pressure has been building on Gov. Gavin Newsom to get kids back into the classroom. Of course, he could order them out, but he does not have the power to force them to return. That decision is left to local school trustees and the teachers union with the permission of the county health officials. If you have followed the Bay Area counties closely, you will have noticed how Santa Clara has been the most aggressive with shutdowns, while other counties have been more relaxed.
It will not help Newsom when recall proponents hammer away that his children have been back in their private school since fall, while students in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego have yet to return to classrooms. You can expect that theme as well as many replays of his fancy dinner out at the French Laundry, one of the area’s most expensive restaurants—indoors with 12 people with no masks in sight.