The Vatican, through its affiliate the Pontifical Academy for Life, published a paper that pushed for in-person classes and education for children during the coronavirus pandemic, among other recommendations.
The paper claimed that the coronavirus pandemic has a “parallel pandemic” that is affecting children and teenagers on a psychological and social level, which is causing undue stress, “distress and illnesses.” The academy noted that children are adaptable to circumstances and are learning how to adjust to the pandemic as time goes on, but that does not mean that policymakers should close schools and force children to remain at home in isolation from friends and teachers.
Instead, the paper outlined four areas of concern related to education in a pandemic. First, school closures should be a “last resort” because the isolation of at-home, virtual learning “have impoverished their intellectual development and deprived them of important relationships.” The paper correctly deduced that the social and intellectual deprivations from isolation significantly affect the poor and disadvantaged communities, such as low-income families.
It criticized school closures across the world because in poorer regions, it has forced children into child labor “and exploitation.” The academy estimated that at least 10 million children “will not return to school.”
Secondly, the paper advocated for safeguarding family relationships by providing support for families in lockdown conditions to avoid domestic violence and “increased parental stress.”
Thirdly, the paper pushed for education “toward universal fraternity.” It defined it as opening the new generation of children to the possibilities of good uses of technology and to become more aware of the world as a whole.
Lastly, the paper underlined the urgency for people to “re-think” how to take care of children and younger generations and their faith in Christianity, in addition to calling families to reinvigorate their role to educate their children about their family’s faith.
As background, the academy operates under the leadership of Roman Catholic Church archbishops and is located at the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, which global church is headquartered in the Vatican in Rome, Italy.