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Should elementary and high schools reopen this spring? Toula Kourgiantakis says the negative impacts of online learning will be felt for a long time

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Assistant Professor Toula Kourgiantakis has been featured in the media on the topic of whether or not elementary and high schools should reopen, and the importance of allowing kids to return to school.

> Click here to watch her interview on CityNews

From the Toronto Star:Dr. Toula Kourgiantakis, a professor in the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, said the negative impacts of online learning will be felt for a long time.

“The schools need to reopen,” said Kourgiantakis. “I think (kids and adolescents) have not been enough of a priority.”

She said certain children don’t have access to extra help outside of school and may fall behind, “widening the gap” for those already in the margins.

Kourgiantakis emphasized the importance of having communities in school, outside of the home.

“We have increased the risk factor, which is isolation, and we decreased the protective factors, which are all the supports that you would normally get (at school).”

Other implications of keeping children at home during the school year stated in the science table’s response include unrealized social and economic benefits of education, loss of skill development, lifetime earnings, social connections and meals or health services that may not be available or accessible to certain families.

“Like so much of the pandemic, these harms and missed benefits are inequitable: those whom the pandemic is hitting hardest are also hardest hit by school closures.”

Science table modelling shows that only a small increase in COVID-19 cases would result from reopening schools, which most individual public health units believe they can handle.

Kourgiantakis said the last month would provide a good adjustment period before students start a new school year in the fall.

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