OTTAWA – Getting kids back in the classroom after a year and a half of COVID-19-related turmoil may not be the smoothest transition but a national group is out with some recommendations to help.
The Royal Society of Canada says closures have thwarted children’s fundamental need to belong, resulting in greater social isolation and loneliness, and have led to a notable deterioration in mental health.
The society’s top recommendation is for schools to make sure their reopening is done safely and to make sure health measures are in place to help keep them open.
It believes vaccinations for students and staff should be prioritized, and the federal government should inject some cash into local education systems to help keep up with measures that are helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Another of the group’s suggestions is to address the educational gaps some kids will have from trying to learn virtually along with some supports for emotional gaps.
“Small group offerings during the school day, individual virtual supports provided after school, summer camps with a combination of play, high-quality recreation, and academics are some of the options that should be considered in partnership with community organizations,” reads the back-to-school report from the Royal Society of Canada.
“To ensure equity, these programs will need to be free to children and their families.”
Getting better internet access and increasing digital literacy for both students and teachers is also on the list, along with creating a national strategy that emphasizes children’s mental health as important for life success.
“This strategy should also provide coordinated care across sectors in a stepped care framework and across a full continuum of mental health supports spanning promotion, prevention, early intervention, and treatment.”
The Royal Society of Canada also wants to see a comprehensive study into how the pandemic impacted Canadian kids and who the virus may have had a larger impact on.
“We need a precise account of who was impacted, how, and for how long, so that we can take appropriate steps toward providing systems and services that can better support them moving forward,” the report added.
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