Children First Worried About Student Mental Health

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Ontario students are officially staying home for the remainder for the school year, but what does that mean for their mental health?

Premier Doug Ford went against the advice of many medical experts who said a return to the classroom was much needed to keep parents and students sane.

Executive Director of Children First Essex County Lori Kempe, is in agreement and says schools are about more than academics — they also teach students to socialize and form relationships.

Kempe told AM800's The Afternoon News, while there's less than a month left in the school year, it's going to be hard on many families.

"It helps families to be able to balance the demands of caregiving along with the demands of work," she says. "Then you have some time and a break, but continuing to put the demand of being a teachers and a parent on families is difficult."

Kempe says a few weeks back in class would have been beneficial.

"Children transitioning into school or into different grades, that causes stress on children, and then the older youth too as they're transitioning out of Grade 8 or they're transitioning into high school or out of high school," she says. "All of these things are important. It would have provided an opportunity for children to reconnect before the summer break."

Kempe says there's a long list of benefits that haven't been considered.

"It provides an opportunity for routine and structure. So a lot of the kids, perhaps, aren't getting that physical activity. Families who have food security issues, that's how some of our kids get access to food and nutrition. School plays such an important role in the life of our families," she says.

Schools across Ontario moved learning online in mid-April as COVID-19 numbers skyrocketed amid a third wave.

Cases have since declined, but schools were not included in the province's latest reopening plan which is expected to get underway the week of June 14.

 

With files from Patty Handysides