As a pediatrician caring for children in Oregon, I strongly advocate for the immediate reopening of Portland Public Schools. With nearly 45,000 students currently out of school due to the ongoing teacher strike and 11 canceled days, it is crucial that these children have access to education, reliable meals, emotional support, physical activity, and their connection with trusted adults.
The mental health consequences of this prolonged absence from school are significant and concerning, particularly for working parents who have lost a safe environment for their children to learn. The uncertainty surrounding when schools will reopen has created a situation that goes beyond just a typical November break. In my experience working with children in the aftermath of COVID-19, I have seen the long-term mental and behavioral health impacts that school closures can have on young minds. Studies during the pandemic have shown that school closures are linked to worse child mental health outcomes, especially among lower-income families.
If you care about the well-being of Oregon children, I urge you to support the immediate opening of Portland Public Schools. By providing these essential resources and opportunities, we can help mitigate the negative effects of this pandemic on our state’s most vulnerable populations.