400.000 børn er testet positive for Covid-19 i USA – millioner risikerer at sulte, når skolerne lukker

Nedlukningen af skoler i USA er en udfordring for de familier, som er afhængige af støtte til faste måltider og et trygt sted at lære og opholde sig.

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400,000 children have tested positive for Covid-19 in the US – millions are at risk of starvation when schools close

The closure of schools in the United States is a challenge for those families who rely on support for regular meals and a safe place to learn and stay.

My kids have not been to school since late February. When they have their first day of school on Thursday, it will be away from home. They are not going back to school until February 1st, 202 at the earliest. Yes, you read that right, I’ll have both kids at home for virtual school all fall and sometime into 2021 – at least. For who knows how the situation will develop. It would not surprise me if I end up having kids at home for an entire school year.

Experts generally agree that closing schools also limits the spread of Covid-19. But when schools close, other problems arise.

The schools ensure hungry children food and a safe place to be

Schools in the United States not only play an important role when it comes to children’s academic and mental development and learning, they also have an important function in relation to offering social services in the form of e.g. breakfast meals and lunch for low-income families. In total, over 50 million American school children receive help from various programs that offer children breakfast and lunch.

In addition, during the school day, they have a safe place to stay if they are not safe at home. Across the United States, since Covid-19 forced many schools to close, there has been a sharp rise in calls to hotlines to report domestic violence.

More than 1.5 million school children are homeless. When schools close, there is a risk that the needs of these children will fall under the radar. Not only are they at high risk of not receiving schooling, they also often need food, sanitation, medical care, temporary housing – needs that schools and key school staff traditionally help with.

In my region, King County , Washington, there are 68,000 children who do not get enough food every day. Nationwide, 1 in 6 children is not getting enough to eat, 13 million children are starving every day in the United States. According to data from the Brookings Institution, up to 18 million children are expected to starve by the end of 2020.

If one is hungry, it is hard to learn. Hungry children are more likely to get into conflicts, have difficulty sitting still, are more likely to suffer from anxiety. The consequences are enormous , academically , socially and mentally .

Political initiatives, private initiatives and the schools’ extraordinary efforts

So when my children’s schools stay closed and run all teaching online, there are many non-teaching-related factors that come into play in the school district’s decision. When the schools closed in the spring, vulnerable families could drive past selected schools, where staff stood ready every day to hand out a meal of food that they could have handed out through their rolled-down car windows. However, it required that parents or friends have the opportunity to take time out of the workday and drive to pick up food at school – and that you have a car available or lived close to a bus stop, something many Americans do not.

In addition, many children are alone at home all day and must make their school day work as well as possible. It is i.a. the case of my friend’s two children. She is a single mother and works as a nurse. Not only is it potentially dangerous, it also distorts learning – the children with resourceful parents who can work from home and help the children with their schoolwork, of course, generally do better than the children who do not have parents who can help.

Despite special legislation, extraordinary school efforts and voluntary fundraising, all aimed at improving children’s access to food every day, the United States sees unusually high numbers in the rise of children who do not know where their next meal of food is to come from. .

When Corona is gone, American children will still starve

The economic consequences of Corona will last longer than the Corona crisis itself. This means that the huge problem in the United States with starving children will be a part of American society for years to come. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agricultural), it typically takes 2.5 years from the time unemployment figures fall until one can see side effects in the form of a downward curve in people receiving food stamps.

Corona has many derivative facets that make the decision to keep schools closed complex. Over here, Corona is sometimes called the ” Novel Corona Virus.” And this is how it is also experienced – that is, as ´ny´ when it comes to understanding and reacting to viruses. Politicians and government agencies, including our schools, are groping blindly to navigate a constantly changing knowledge landscape . Meanwhile, vulnerable children need the adults to work together to help and protect them – now, and for years to come.

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