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Masks, Restricted Mobility, and Children’s Health

The harm in masking children and restricting their mobility leads to more long term harm for them than COVID

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Much has been said or written about whether or not school children should be vaccinated, wear masks, and attend on-site classes. Many voices on the right say that children’s propensity for contracting the virus and having any lingering ill-effects is rather small.

Voices on the left, well, who can be sure what they’re saying? Some have health concerns, but most seem to favor anything that will disrupt the nation and potentially cause harm to conservative politicians.

Under-explored is the effect of children wearing masks, incurring a lack of physical activity, and staring at screens. What about the impact of children not being able to see full faces and the resulting damage to their social development and skills? Should that be a topic of interest in the national conversation? If not, why not? What about children who already are over-connected to the internet and unconnected from nature, and from each other?

Many Schools Have the Space

Since social distancing is the order of the day, why has little discussion taken place about the creative ways in which schools can uphold social distancing for mask-free children who should be attending them? Nearly every school, from elementary to high school, has a gymnasium, and much of the time there is room within the gymnasium for 20 or 30 students to sit spaced apart and receive instruction.

For many hours each day, school cafeterias are not widely used. Cafeterias include tables and chairs which can be arranged to practice social distancing while enabling mask-free children to learn first-hand from an on-site teacher.

Most schools across the nation have auditoriums or theaters, or rooms of some sort where performances, assemblies, speeches, and presentations take place. In such gathering halls, a mask-free class of 20 or 30 students could meet in one corner, another class in another corner, and so on, thereby maintaining distance. Also, in many parts of the country during late August, September, and October, the weather is palatable for holding classes outdoors.

The Fuzzy Future

Nearsightedness among all ages groups in society is on the rise: Since the 1970s, nearsightedness has increased nearly 70 percent. Whereas 35 years ago, roughly a quarter of the population between ages 12 and 54 required corrective lenses for nearsightedness, today that figure is above 50 percent.

Myopia is likely on the rise because of the increasing use of electronic devices, notably among young children, and starting at an early age. From age three on up, kids today stare at screens incessantly. Susan Vitale, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in the Clinical Trials Branch, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, National Eye Institute, notes that our affinity for electronic devices, especially among young children, could explain the sudden jump in nearsightedness.

It appears that the time spent indoors, which has been on the rise since the computer revolution of the early 1980s, doesn’t help. Children spend more time indoors today than children of previous generations and, thus, the peril of myopia looms. For eye health, indoor lighting cannot compare with sunlight. When too little ambient light infiltrates their fields of vision, it sends a signal to each eye to stop growing. That can lead directly to myopia, and hence, a lifetime of trips to the optometrist.

Children are Vulnerable

Often, kids are allowed to stay connected to the Internet and electronic gadgetry, staring into screens for more hours each day than any futurist could have imagined, and all the while being subjected to the negative consequences of such actions.

Each of us, from childhood on, need to spend more time outdoors, at the least to enjoy nature’s bounty of vitamin D and for the stimulation of the pineal and other glands. Being outdoors also leads to more exercise. Yet, how many parents ensure that their children spend the requisite amount of time outdoors each day?

For children, the threat of spending too much time indoors is perilous for other reasons. More than ever, children today are subject to Type II diabetes and other afflictions normally associated with adults.

All the above points to the conclusion that the harm in masking children and restricting their mobility leads to more long term harm for them than COVID.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Education

Academic Underachievement As a Permanent Condition

Academic achievement occurs through individual effort: One boy and one girl after another rising above

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On the state and local level, as decisions are made about how and in what form we will educate the nation’s children, an age-old issue remains. The underlying causes of income inequality and civil unrest likely has less to do with media-inflamed coverage and more to do with a lingering issue that few people want to earnestly discuss: educational disparity.

In virtually every U.S. school system, the disparity year after year, decade after decade, and even longer, in mathematics competency, reading proficiency, test scores, honor roll status, and graduation rates, between African American students and other students is disturbing.

A Disturbing Reality

Here in the third decade of the third millennium, with a male African American high school dropout rate at 40% across the U.S., can anyone view the situation optimistically? Any responsible American would understandably be concerned.

As Eric Hanushek, who is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, as well as a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, exclaimed “It’s remarkable.” Following his extensive analysis of the situation, he remarked, “I knew that the gap hadn’t been closing too much, but when I actually looked at the data I was myself surprised.”

In one community after another, and one school system after another, when strenuous efforts to bridge the gap do not bear fruit, invariably someone yells “foul,” as if some grand conspiracy is occurring and a magic wand, yet to be waved, could suddenly redress all. And, as if hard-working, dedicated teachers are not attempting their utmost for each of their students.

An Undesired Path

Consider the school system in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, North Carolina. This locale, deemed, “The southern part of heaven,” by a variety of writers, is among the most progressive in the United States. The teachers and educators here have a vested interest in demonstrating that their school system, beyond all others, can succeed in the vital area of closing achievement gaps between whites and minorities.

Nevertheless, year in and year out the gap remains. So, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education becomes primed to try anything! Another in an endless line of supposed “fixes” was to eliminate the advanced math classes in the middle schools and to lump all non-pre-algebra students together, with similar plans to eliminate other advanced classes such as in language arts.

Just as you cannot easily erect a sound building on quicksand, and you cannot expect to solve a decades-old problem by starting with a shaky foundation. Taking a lowest common denominator approach to developing school curriculum has never consistently worked, anywhere. It frustrates the students and dramatically increases a teacher’s burden – all such students must then be taught at individual learning speeds. Do you know any superhuman teachers? If so, could you afford them?

Face the Real Issues

Permanently closing the academic gap between underachieving students and the rest of the student population requires addressing reality – airing the truth about the disparity – not resorting to politically “correct” psychobabble and curricula finagling for another ten years, and then another ten, and then another.

This disparity encompasses such issues as the number of hours the television is on in given households, family or parental encouragement for completing homework assignments, a regular workspace, and established hours for studying in a quiet environment, among other factors.

Until solid analysis, exploration, and programs that address these issues are undertaken, no amount of wrangling with classes will prove to be the “winning formula.” And, school boards will have no chance of effectively addressing the continuing problem of poor academic performance among student groups.

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story The Sign of Four, detective Sherlock Holmes says, “…When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The schools in U.S. communities routinely exhaust talented teachers with a task that cannot be solved by them, nor is it theirs to solve.

Students Eager to Learn

However improbable to those who wish to pretend otherwise, academic achievement occurs through individual effort: One boy and one girl after another rising above and cracking the books, then coming to class as serious students, eager to learn, and primed to excel. Such achievement is not likely to occur any other way.

Otherwise, expect that income inequality and civil unrest will continue for decades into the 21st century.

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Education

When America Loses THIS, It Loses Everything

We are in a battle for the soul of our country. And that battle is over truth.

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We are in a battle for the soul of our country. And that battle is over truth. Truth must be the foundation of everything that we believe, honor, value, and esteem. If we don’t know what truth is, how can we stand for America? The left is at war with the truth and tries to reposition what it is that we believe to be true so that they can change society. We must stand for truth. PolitiCrosssing founder Chris Widener expands on the need to fight for truth in the short video below.

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