When COVID-19 first came upon our radars in March of 2019, we didn’t know what the outcome would be. We didn’t know who the virus would affect, we didn’t know what the toll would be on society.
As an airline captain for over 33 years, I relied on data to safely get my passengers to their destination (I’ll admit, as an engineer, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to numbers.) Every day, at the beginning of the pandemic, I would sit in my office and look at the County data. It became clear to me that seniors living in senior care facilities were at the greatest risk and that those with underlying health conditions were suffering the most. As we were shutting down our schools, our entire workforce, just about every business, our beaches and parks, I became more vocal in an effort to target the vulnerable without wholesale closures.
As two weeks to stop the spread turned into months, the data did start to show one glimmer of hope. Our kids were the least vulnerable. Yet, for over a year we forced them out of the classroom, out of playing sports and onto their computers. Many people, including myself warned about the dangers for the future of our kids and now we are starting to see the ramifications of those lockdowns.
Last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association all declared a State of Emergency for children’s mental health. Suicide attempts have risen sharply among 12-17 year old’s, with the numbers of E.R. visits for suicide attempts rising 51 percent. School shootings have almost doubled since 2019. And reading and math levels have fallen to record lows.
Never in our history have we protected adults at the risk of our kids, until COVID-19. We should continue to protect our most vulnerable with all the precautions necessary, but we should allow our kids to be kids. No school districts should be shutting down due to the Omicron variant, if they do, they’ll be making a grave mistake.