Social isolation is effective in combating COVID-19, but it may lead to loneliness and other mental health issues in children and adolescents. Some even suggest that “a pandemic of childhood mental illness is upcoming which will include the whole disease spectrum from childhood depression, anxiety disorders, childhood obsession, pervasive developmental disorder, eating disorders to name a few.” Moreover, there is an increased risk for abuse and other adverse childhood experiences in some vulnerable groups. Some forms of stress may even have long-term health effects.

Specialists have suggested some possible interventions to minimize mental health problems, such as: providing healthcare and economic relief to pandemic-undermined families, monitoring of online activities so they are safe, providing educational material about Covid targeted to children, increased focus on mental health interventions, and returning to school which provide important coping mechanism for children.

A safe return to school is important for long-term mental health of children.

Many Unknowns on the Return to School

The psychological pressure to remember to keep social distance at all times while at school can also be a burden, yet to be studied. Also, the psychological stress of returning to school after an outbreak in the school forced school officials to suspend activities and quarantine the whole school have not been studied. It seems that assuring a smooth and safe return to school is key to provide an environment which allows children to cope with several stressors they are now exposed to.

BeAiware’s Proximity Alerts

Devices and apps have proved to be successful encouragers of behavior in children in other areas, such as brushing their teeth. In diabetic children, continuous glucose-monitoring devices that alert low or high glucose levels decreased the worry or stress in 78% of caregivers. At BeAiware, we discussed both how to allow kids to go back to school safely and how to make the experience less stressful. Our devices provide a configurable alert system when two people get closer than 6ft to one another. Moreover, to avoid unnecessary alarms, such as when someone just walk by you, we also configure a minimum time of proximity before the alert. This alert can be a light and/or vibration. Optionally, the feature can be completely disabled, while performing contact tracing like before. We are currently contacting researchers in child psychology to assess scientifically the psychological benefits of proximity alerts, because we are committed to the wellbeing of children.

Proximity Alerts will allow for continued observance of physical distancing throughout the day, without the added stress of having to pay attention to everyone’s physical distance to the child. Coupled with Contact Tracing and Quarantine monitoring, it provides a key element in a school reopening plan.