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No school means vulnerable children need more help | Letters

Here’s what readers are saying in Thursday’s letters to the editor.

Watch out for the vulnerable

How to readjust when the pandemic ends

The spread of the novel coronavirus and the accompanying global response to the current crisis has affected all aspects of our lives. While we anxiously await the end of the pandemic, its impact will likely be felt for years to come.

Schools across the nation are closed and are unlikely to reopen this school year, interrupting the growth and learning of more than 73 million children nationally. This kind of disruption can have short-term consequences for emotional and physical health and long-term consequences for overall well-being. This impact is intensified for children that, prior to the pandemic, were already vulnerable as a result of racial and economic disparities. Many of these vulnerable children rely on school not only for learning, but also to support their mental, emotional, social, and physical well-being.

As families isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many women and girls are experiencing their largest threat where they should feel the safest—in their own homes. Domestic violence hotlines across Florida have seen a significant increase in calls. At the same time, Florida’s Department of Children and Families shares that child abuse hotline reports in March decreased when compared to last year. Nationally, school personnel make up approximately 20 percent of child abuse reports. The longer vulnerable children remain out of school, the greater the likelihood of violence, abuse, and neglect in the home that goes unreported.

Efforts that keep teachers and social workers in touch with young people can help reduce these effects. A current example is Pace Center for Girls, a statewide prevention and early intervention model working with more than 3,000 vulnerable girls and young women across Florida, combines counseling and case management with the full academic school day. Adapting to the new and unique circumstances of COVID-19 and social distancing, Pace has deployed virtual case management, counseling and therapy and continues to provide students with a full academic school day. This is done using distance learning platforms to ensure all of the girls continue to receive the social, emotional and educational services they need to be physically and emotionally safe and academically successful during this challenging time. Pace staff remain engaged, ensuring girls and families have access to critical food, hygiene products, medical resources and emergency services in their communities.

By remaining mission-driven and continuing to provide girls and young women the opportunity to create a better future, Pace is mitigating the very real short- and long-term consequences of isolation and vulnerability that many young people may experience during this time.

A return to normal will be a heavy lift for many children and families. Re-adjusting as we emerge from this pandemic will likely be a bumpy road, but supporting those most vulnerable in our communities through this crisis will ensure they will not be left behind.

Mary Marx, Tampa

The writer is the CEO of Pace Center for Girls.

Provide help, don’t insult

Assigning blame won’t help jobless | Editorial, May 6

In this Aug. 13, 2013, file photo, Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla. and Sen. Marco Rubio listen to Gov. Rick Scott announce a lawsuit against the state of Georgia.

It is quite interesting that the two Florida U.S. senators are degrading those receiving unemployment due to job losses, stating those people would rather collect unemployment than work because it’s more money. That is very easy for both of them to say because they have no idea what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck. Why not help companies to raise employees’ wages instead of insulting workers?

Carol Hess, Plant City