Time to try to get back to normal, help our kids | AspenTimes.com

Time to try to get back to normal, help our kids

We are now at crossroads. COVID-19 is becoming an endemic in our community and we are now faced with a decision of how we are going to handle this reality while also fostering the well-being of our children.

Protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19 matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Our children have been forced into remote learning and forced to wear masks for eight hours per day for nearly two years.

The kids’ ears are sore. Their faces are broken out. They can’t understand one another. They don’t know what anyone’s smile looks like. They are falling behind academically, socially and emotionally. Their extracurricular lives have been canceled.

Is it any wonder that, according to the CDC, stress, anxiety and depression has doubled in young children, and that suicide among teenage girls has increased by 50%? Why doesn’t the harm that’s being done to these children count? Why do so many dismiss and belittle our concern for our children, or imply that our requests for a return to normalcy is “selfish”?

For two years, our community and especially our children have sacrificed incredibly. We made them wear masks, double masks, now KN95 masks, masks on the basketball court, volleyball court, etc. We got them vaccinated. We complied at a rate unheard of in most parts of our country. We forced them to miss graduations, vacations, family reunions.

We did all of this because we DO care about our community. But at some point, the safety that these measures provide to society will no longer outweigh the negative impact and long-term harm being done to these children.

That point is now. We have vaccines. We have available testing. We have therapeutics. We have a milder variant. We have a large portion of our community now with naturally acquired immunity. We know so much more than we did a year ago.

It is time to TRY to get back to normal. In the next few coming months, as the mask mandates and restrictions loosen in Pitkin County. Please do not leave the children behind in COVID-19 purgatory. Let’s TRY to give them back their childhood.

Kirk Hartley