The Covid-19 pandemic that began in 2019 has impacted school-age children profoundly in the United States. Long-term effects are yet to be determined. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide among those ages 10-24 years is the second leading cause of death and has continued to increase by 60% between 2007-2018 (CDC). Increases in behavioral problems, such as depression, anxiety, violence, fighting, anger, and emotional grief have also been observed in school -age children. A study by Gordon and Burgess (2020) indicated that up to 92% of children have been faced with school closures requiring online learning at home and resulting in social isolation from friends and peers which can impact development. More than 8 of 10 children surveyed stated they felt they were learning little to nothing during this time (Gordon & Burgess, 2020). School closure or changes in learning environment for K-12 resulted in an average of students falling 5 months behind in math and reading which will impact their opportunities for work and income in the future by about $49,000-$61,000 over each one’s lifetime. Many children also faced missing childhood vaccinations, well-child visits, important milestone events, and food or housing uncertainty.
Sharing of strategies to help children cope, express their fears and anxieties is important. Adults should be honest and transparent in their communications and look for alternative methods for children to interact socially with their peers while remaining safe, promoting optimal health and well-being. Alternative methods could include virtual or video chats, writing cards or letters, and using a phone to stay in touch with family and friends. Maintaining a routine at home and getting adequate nutrition and rest will also promote better long-term health. Social isolation may also lead to decreased school-age child activity resulting in obesity, which can lead to other long-term adverse conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
According to the National Institute for Health in November 2021, more than 6 million children have been infected with Covid-19. Multiple studies are continuing to monitor the long-term impacts on children, including cardiovascular and mental health short and long-term effects.