Coronavirus: Increased anxiety, depression if kids miss out on school, experts warn

With September just two weeks away, a Western University specialist in infectious diseases is warning parents of the downside of not sending their kids back to school during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Michael Silverman, the head of the division of infectious diseases at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, spoke with 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady on The Afternoon Show Monday.

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He says increased levels in anxiety and depression are among several concerns children may experience if they miss out on school.

“There’s often more screen time and greater risk of physical abuse,” Silverman said.

“Long term, (impacts) include poor performance on intelligence, cognitive skills and standardized tests, higher incidences of teen pregnancy and illicit drug use, lower graduation rates, (and) higher incidences of hypertension and diabetes.”

Dr. Saverio Stranges, the chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, also shared his findings on COVID-19 and its effects on children.

“Children younger than 10 years of age have a relatively low risk of infection, with much milder symptoms, as compared to adults,” Stranges said.

“At the moment we do not have consistent evidence to support the fact that young children are epidemiologically significant in community-wide viral spread.”

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Silverman says children catching COVID-19 at school should be “expected,” but he says this should not cause panic.

“We can’t (look) at a school where several kids got COVID-19 and therefore it was a mistake to open the school when all of them got a mild illness and got over it rapidly.

“We will have some COVID-19 cases (in schools), but those children will generally recover quite well, and there’s some evidence that a majority of children will have no symptoms.”

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Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) parents have until the end of Tuesday to inform the school board whether or not their kids will return to the classroom once September rolls around.

The TVDSB said Monday that the board had received 78 per cent of its total responses. Around 13 per cent of students have chosen full remote learning at home.

Parents are also brainstorming creative ideas to keep their children interactive and learning without going to school, such as learning pods.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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