Support Our Children and the Urgency of Normal

Support Our Children and the Urgency of Normal

3,529 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!

Why this petition matters

Started by Michael Creedon

As parents, teachers, school administrators and concerned members of the community, we have recognized that, in much of the United States, life has returned to nearly normal for many adults. Distressingly, we note that children in the United States remain subject to continuing restrictions which are both unbalanced to the level of risk they face and do not align with our evolving understanding of COVID, children, schools universities and childcare settings. Despite examples from nations around the globe who have prioritized children in their easing of restrictions, children in many parts of the US continue to bear the brunt of COVID mitigation while remaining least at risk.

We have taken note of the group of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals who have signed the call for a return to pre-pandemic norms in schools through the "Urgency of Normal" campaign. We thank them for their support of children, their balanced view of Public Health as a whole rather than as any single threat, and their advocacy on behalf of the overall wellbeing of children. We echo these beliefs below and support them in return.

Youth depression, suspected suicide attempts, drug overdose deaths, and obesity have all risen dramatically during the pandemic. The unintended consequences of pandemic restrictions are now a greater risk to our children than COVID, and we must act on that reality. 

Meanwhile, children’s already-low risk from COVID has become even lower. Vaccines are available to children aged five and up, the Omicron variant is causing milder disease, and vaccines continue to be extremely protective against severe disease in the Omicron era.

Based on a careful review of all of this evidence, we believe it is time to allow children the same return to normalcy that adults have enjoyed. Children’s schools, athletics, and activities should be restored to their 2019 norms. Masks should become optional in US schools (we suggest, by February 15), and we can also return to pre-pandemic norms for quarantines: if you are sick, stay home. 

We can and should protect medically-vulnerable children and adults using focused protection strategies that protect individuals with risk, as we did in the years before COVID, rather than prolonging harmful restrictions on all children.

In order to make these shifts, we must reassure families about the low risk to children from COVID infections in the Omicron era, and also from long COVID. We must also share the best available evidence on the benefits and harms of COVID mitigation measures affecting children, which can reassure families, educators, policymakers, and all who care for children’s well-being about the safety and healthfulness of a return to normalcy for kids.

While this information needs to reach many Americans, we see signs that families are ready for this shift. Recent polls show that 65% of parents are more concerned about their child missing out on education than getting COVID at school – suggesting that Americans are evolving their perspectives about COVID, just as the impacts of COVID have evolved in the era of vaccines and Omicron.

Children – and their parents – have shouldered an outsize burden long enough. Restoring normal childhood is a moral imperative, based on the balance of today’s evidence. We echo the call of the Urgency of Normal and urge our elected officials to adopt the recommendations made by the the group, using the information provided in their toolkit for parents, students, mentors, teachers and administrators.

3,529 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!