Let Them Play
Let Them Play
Dear Governor Cuomo, Mayor De Blasio, and the NYS Education Department,
Continued school closures and the cancellation of sports haveleft children in New York State greatly impacted from many perspectives, including on their mental and physical health. The long-term effects of measures taken to address COVID-19 are significant and immeasurable. According to McKinsey & Co., the learning losses due to school closures “will probably be greatest among low-income, black, and Hispanic students. Lower-income students are less likely to have access to high-quality remote learning or to a conducive learning environment, such as a quiet space with minimal distractions, devices they do not need to share, high-speed internet, and parental academic supervision.” As our country struggles with racial inequities, the actions taken to combat COVID have perpetuated said problem.
UNICEF released its first comprehensive assessment of the pandemic's effects on children, the United Nations agency said "there is strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them”, UNICEF said. “Disruptions to key services and soaring poverty rates pose the biggest threat to children. The longer the crisis persists, the deeper its impact on children’s education, health, nutrition and well-being. The future of an entire generation is at risk.” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director.
The cancellation of sports has had similar impacts on students. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin analyzing the effect of sports cancellations on mental health, “36% of those surveyed (high school student-athletes) reported moderate or severe anxiety and 65% reported symptoms of depression.”
Cancellations of sports and limitations on in-person learning have come in tandem with spikes in crime. According to NYC.gov, for the month of August 2020, there was a 166% increase in the number of shooting incidents across the city (242 v. 91) as the number of shootings rose in all boroughs except Staten Island. The number of people murdered citywide increased to 53 v. 36 (+ 47%) for the month. The result is our children are left without healthy outlets in communities that are increasingly violent.
Our organization, About U Outreach, works on the frontlines to give opportunities to economically disadvantaged youth throughout New York City. Through the pandemic, we have seen the tangible, negative impacts of this pandemic. In-person school is vital to ensure proper education, health, nutrition and well-being. Sports are a vital tool in keeping our youth off the streets and in constructive activities. Many of our students need sports as an opportunity to attend college and better their lives.
We ask that full-time, in person learning be reinstituted immediately. Attached to this petition are additional sources citing the minimal nature of health risks of school reopening’s, as well as the dire need to remain open for kids. Additionally, we request that all winter and spring sports in New York State are reinstated. Our youth need us to step up on their behalf – please take all impacts into consideration and give them the chance at a successful future!
The Families of New York
Additional Data on Total Impacts of School Closures: