Canada’s top pediatric experts call on provincial governments to reopen schools and keep them open

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An open letter signed by more than 100 Canadian doctors – as well as some of the country’s top pediatric experts – called on provincial governments across Canada to reopen schools and to keep them open.

The letter was sent to all premiers and ministers of education and health, reported the Globe and Mail.

The letter criticizes how pandemic restrictions – especially school closures – “stop our children from reaching their full potential and harm their health (physical and mental) and general well-being.

“This is particularly unnecessary considering that the data consistently shows that the risk of transmission in schools is low, even when community transmission is high,” the letter continues. “To that end, keeping schools open is the safest option, not only for the overall health and well-being of children, but also for society at large now and in the future.”

Experts who signed the letter include Dr. Anne Wormsbecker, interim chief of pediatrics at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, and Dr. Sean Bitnun, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Pediatric experts from hospitals such as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and CHU Sainte-Justine (The Mother and Child Hospital of Montreal), medical professors from universities across the country, surgeons, ER doctors and family physicians also signed the letter.

“School should remain open for face-to-face learning (at least as an option) unless there is high quality evidence to show that doing otherwise is more dangerous for the overall physical and mental health of children,” states the letter.

The open letter calls for a special “child lens” to be put on all policies under review and for improved access to support services for children struggling from mental health and academic difficulties.

The letter also addresses misplaced fears that may be held by parents, students and teachers about the virus.

“Children are not at risk for serious outcomes for SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to other commonly encountered respiratory viruses, such as influenza,” the letter reads. “When compared to the general public, teachers are not at higher risk for infection or disease.”