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Learning the truth about children’s lives

The shutdown of schools in the country has been called “the biggest distance learning experiment in history.” And the children who will suffer the most, say education experts, are those who come from low income families. Parents who work outside the home worry about what their kids are doing when they are unsupervised. It isn’t all that easy for parents who work at home these days, either, as they try to balance work and home.

“Just over half of the nation’s public school children are from families considered low income and an estimated 12 million lack broadband Internet access at home,” writes Anya Kamenetz in an article appearing at NPR’s (National Public Radio) website.

“Studies of online learning suggest not only that students learn less in online environments, compared with in-person, but that disadvantaged students learn the least,” Kamenetz quotes Douglas Harris, an education researcher and fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And that’s true even when online teachers have experience and training with online teaching. Under the current emergency, most teachers will not have any experience at all with this approach.”

Education Week published an opinion piece, “After the Pandemic Comes the Epidemic of Lost Learning and Family Insecurity” written by Rey Saldana, president and CEO of Communities in Schools, a network of affiliates that provides in-school resources and supports to vulnerable youths. He is a former San Antonio city councilman.

“…in this ever-changing crisis and as more people become sick, families and communities will be affected in ways we can hardly yet imagine. After the COVID-19 threat lessens, we’ll face an epidemic of lost learning, lost jobs, and family security, increased mental illness and trauma, and increased family violence exacerbated by social isolation,” he writes. “Even in the midst of this pandemic, the nation must prepare for how it will respond to that crisis.”

Ohio Alliance of Recovery Providers (OARP) advises, ‘The Coronavirus Pandemic is Pushing America Into a Mental Health Crisis.’ “Data shows that people are already experiencing more depression and anxiety. Nearly half of Americans reported that the COVID-19 virus is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

“The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) emotional distress hotline registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April with roughly 20,000 people texting the hotline,” OARP reports.

Senator Ron Portman, in his column at the Senate.gov website, writes, “In 2017, Ohio’s opioid overdose death rate was almost three times the national average, with nearly a dozen Ohioans dying from these dangerous drugs every day, surpassing car crashes as our state’s number one killer. The next year, we were one of the leaders in turning the tide with a 22 percent decrease in overdose deaths, as drug overdose deaths declined nationwide for the first time since 1990.”

With the arrival of COVID-19, however, the state has seen a rise in overdose deaths. “The social distancing measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus appear to have led to more opioid use at the exact same time that our health care resources have been redirected to treat patients of this deadly new pandemic … [F]or many in recovery, there is no substitute for the in-person care that our addiction specialists normally use to support the recovery of patients,” Senator Portman writes, urging the careful move toward normalcy.

The Harvard Gazette (news.harvard.edu) interviewed the former secretary of education in Massachusetts, Paul Reville. He is a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “The most economically challenged in our society will be the most vulnerable in this crisis.” He remarked that the lack of equity in children’s lives that has existed forever is now in public awareness. Too many lack food, don’t receive adequate health and mental health care, and their home environments are not stable. The struggle is real for families who are focused on survival.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery .org.

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