Government-ordered COVID school closures will haunt Canadian youth forever

Fear-driven school closures unleashed a silent pandemic of youth mental health crises, vindicating concerned parents who knew the measures were harmful and unjustified.

Government-ordered COVID school closures will haunt Canadian youth forever
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It was dubbed the "shadow pandemic," yet the voices of parents and concerned citizens expressing worries about the mental health impact of COVID-justified school closures were often dismissed as selfish, and even labeled as "grandma killers."

There was no sound evidence to support school closures, and it turns out that young people will bear lifelong impacts of nonsensical shuttering, according to a cost-analysis report published today by the Fraser Institute.

The report titled, “The Forgotten Demographic: Assessing the Possible Benefits and Serious Cost of COVID-19 School Closures on Canadian Children” details disruptions in Canadian schools that spanned three school years, from March 2020 to at least February 2022.

This was done without evidence-based justification, which resulted in significant learning loss that has not been recuperated, chronic school absenteeism, an alarming increase in depression, anxiety, and suicide.

A graph comparing education days lost between provinces and territories shows that Ontario had the longest school closure in Canada. Students were shuttered from classrooms for a minimum of 27 weeks, something Premier Doug Ford appeared proud of in 2022.

“During government-imposed COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures, children spent much of their time in isolation, with government shuttering opportunities for physical activity and socialization. In cases of abuse or food insecurity at home, the individual impact of school closures on children was likely much greater,” the report reads.

A Mental Health Commission of Canada (2020) survey of youth found that 64 percent of Canadians aged 15 to 24 had self-perceived poor mental health during the pandemic, higher than any other demographic (the youngest age surveyed was 15). With every advance in age group, there was a decrease in self-perceived poor mental health.

Those aged 65 and older, who were statistically most at risk for negative COVID-19 health outcomes, self-reported the lowest levels of poor mental health during the pandemic, at only 35 percent. Statistics Canada data showed about 36 percent of youth were very or extremely concerned about family stress from confinement.

The science was very clear on this, yet governments continued with hysterical, knee-jerk reactions instead of opting for a more balanced approach.

“We won’t know the totality of the damage done by the school closures for some time,” says co-author of the study Paige MacPherson. “What is clear is that governments didn’t use the best information available to them when deciding to close schools, and students have already suffered and will continue to pay the price.”

Parents, educators, and students alike finally said, “Enough is enough” and rallied at the Ontario legislature as the provinces’ sweeping closures persisted into early 2022.

“The impact of the government’s COVID-19 policies on children was unprecedented and while the full effects are not yet evident, the harm imposed will have left lingering legacies in the lives of Canadian kids,” the report concludes.

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  • By Tamara Ugolini

PETITION: Let Our Kids Go Back To Class

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