It Is Time to End the Debate Over School Reopening | Pediatrics | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network
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Editorial
April 29, 2021

It Is Time to End the Debate Over School Reopening

Author Affiliations
  • 1Child Health Advocacy Institute, Division of General Pediatrics and Community Health, Children’s National Hospital, Washington, DC
  • 2Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development, Seattle, Washington
  • 3Editor, JAMA Pediatrics
JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(4):e2111125. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.11125

The study by Raviv and colleagues1 examines the association between the COVID-19 pandemic and caregivers’ perceptions of the psychological well-being of their school-aged children. The authors partnered with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) during the summer of 2020 to design and administer an anonymous electronic survey of caregivers of CPS students. The survey assessed attitudes about returning to in-person instruction, caregiver reports of mental health concerns (eg, agitated or angry, lonely, anxious, stressed, depressed or low mood, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide) and positive adjustment characteristics (relaxed, interacts positively with siblings or family members, positive peer or social relationships, talks about plans for the future, and hopeful or positive) in their children, COVID-19 exposure and illness among family members, and the effect of COVID-19 on social determinants of health, such as employment and food access. The survey was translated into multiple languages, and responses were received from more than 32 000 caregivers reporting on behalf of more than 40 000 students in CPS, a district that serves more than 340 000 students.2 Using a retrospective pre-post design, the study found that caregivers reported an increase in child mental health concerns and a decrease in positive adjustment characteristics comparing the periods before and after the end of in-person instruction. COVID-19 exposure and social stressors were associated with increases in mental health concerns and decreases in positive adjustment characteristics.

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