Pediatrics Chief at One of World’s Top Hospitals Urges Gov. Cooper to Consider Cost to Kids of School Closures

“[Senate Bill 37] will now go to Gov. Roy Cooper. I want him to have a full picture of how children are impacted.”

“My role as pediatrician-in-chief at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York and New York-Presbyterian has given me a clear vantage point of the crisis that has been exacerbated by keeping schools mostly closed for in-person learning.”

Raleigh, N.C. — The pediatrician-in-chief at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, which is one of the world’s top hospitals, published an op-ed in the News & Observer to explain to Gov. Roy Cooper what’s at stake as he deliberates whether to veto Senate Bill 37.

Here are some excerpts. Read the full op-ed here.

Many North Carolina school administrators and leaders have been reluctant to follow the science when it comes to weighing a return to in-person instruction, thereby damaging the educational, emotional, and physical well-being of thousands of the state’s children.

A bill requiring in-person learning in North Carolina schools has passed the N.C. House and Senate and will now go to Gov. Roy Cooper. I want him to have a full picture of how children are impacted.

My role as pediatrician-in-chief at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York and New York-Presbyterian has given me a clear vantage point of the crisis that has been exacerbated by keeping schools mostly closed for in-person learning. We have observed trends that signal potentially irreversible damage to children:

  • A tidal wave of children requiring hospitalization for mental health crises filling our emergency rooms because the inpatient units are full.
  • An obesity epidemic unrestrained.
  • Children with pre-existing conditions who have lost fitness and strength and worsened their disease.
  • Child maltreatment that is not being detected until it is too late.
  • A growing education gap — now a chasm — for children living in low-income homes.

We cannot continue to pretend that our children are well served by virtual learning or deny the data showing that the benefits of in-person school outweigh the risks.

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