Growing up, Samuel was the most compassionate and curious one in the family. Now, at 14 years old, he’s battling a new challenge.
For children with Down Syndrome, in-person learning is critical for social-emotional wellbeing. When classes went online, my bright and bubbly son became nearly unrecognizable.
The challenge that Samuel faced over these past few months is not unique.
For the more than 2.7 million students enrolled in Florida schools, virtual learning has made both school and home life increasingly difficult. Florida moms saw our kids lose their energy and enthusiasm for learning.
The “China Virus” has opened the floodgates for an entirely new challenge. Ever since classes went online, the mental health of students across the nation was put at risk.
Dr. Sara Garza, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said distance learning for long periods of time can have a negative impact on a child’s emotional, mental, and physical health, especially when they have special needs.
I homeschooled my children for years, and some of my five children still choose that path. But Samuel needs the face-to-face time with his teachers, and now I have a full career, as does my husband. When forced to keep him home and put him online for school, we found him unmotivated, even depressed when we attempted to sit him at the computer each day for his virtual school.
Keeping schools closed doesn’t just impact students with special needs or mental health challenges, though. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that without opening, at-risk children are at even higher risk of abuse, drug addiction, and suicide. Families struggling to provide for their children are at increased risk for a significant impact on food security, as well.
During spring school closures, students’ math progress in low-income zip codes decreased by roughly 50 percent. If schools stay closed until January 2021, these problems will only worsen as low-income students would lose several more months of learning. Safely reopening schools must be a national priority for the sake of our children’s future.
Safely reopening schools means actively fighting for the well being of students across America. President Donald Trump has called for schools to safely reopen this fall, to guarantee American students receive the education and care they deserve. Science, data, and common sense are on Trump’s side in this battle.
The Trump administration provided $13 billion in the CARES Act for elementary and secondary schools, and stands ready to deploy CDC teams to support schools that are safely reopening. Trump recognizes that safely reopening schools is a matter of lasting national importance.
Instead of listening to the concerns of parents, students, and scientific experts, former Vice President Joe Biden has consistently sold out to radical left-wing teachers’ unions. Biden and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are willing to put a political endorsement ahead of children like mine.
Clearly, keeping schools closed harms mental health, physical safety, and educational outcomes for children across the nation. This national crisis impacts our kids. It impacts students like my son, Samuel.
This fall, I don’t want to lose Sam yet again to social isolation and distance learning. The truly compassionate candidate for president, Trump, not only recognizes and acknowledges my son and other children with special needs in a crowd, he also recognizes that keeping children like Samuel who have special needs, or those at risk economically, away from the services they need is anything but compassionate. One side talks about compassion. President Trump acts.
Dr. Gina Loudon is a national co-chair of Women for Trump, partner with America’s Voice Network, and mother of five children.