Experts Say School And Childcare Reopening Presents Challenges And Opportunities

Rear view of elementary students attending a class in the classroom.
Back view of large group of school kids having a class in elementary school. skynesher/Getty Images


Schools and childcare programs face significant challenges as they work towards reopening this summer and fall. But a panel of health and human services leaders agreed Thursday that those challenges can be met, and that the current situation presents opportunities to do things differently.

The leaders spoke via a Zoom web conference hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Shari Nethersole, executive director of community health at Boston Children’s Hospital, said the COVID-19 crisis has interrupted all kinds of care for children.

“There are not as many eyes on children,” she said. “So we don’t really know how they’re doing. We we honestly don’t really know how they’re doing.”

With kids staying at home, there have been reductions in reports to the state’s Department and Children and Families, as well as other places where children’s welfare becomes apparent, like emergency rooms.

“And I think we all need to spend some time trying to understand that better,” said Dr. Nethersole.

And as kids return to school and daycare programs after an extended absence, they’re likely to show up with some anxiety, said Dr. Shella Dennery, director of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Neighborhood Partnership Program.

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