January 17, 2022

Eternal Child

Accomplished Education Technicians

School mask mandates protect children with complex medical conditions

3 min read
  • Names changed in op-ed for privacy.
  • Dr. Joe Zickafoose is a pediatrician in Nashville

Life is never easy for parents, especially those raising children with complex medical conditions. Schools act as a life-line for these families by supporting the children’s learning, providing important therapies and other supports to help reach their full potential.

As a pediatrician, I have seen first-hand the challenges that COVID has added to the lives of the families I care for when their children haven’t been able to attend school:

Sam, a third grader who has a bleeding disorder and history of a stroke, spent months without in-person physical and occupational therapy. Despite his parents’ best efforts at home exercises, he started going backwards in his abilities to dress himself, use the toilet on his own and walk without difficulty.

A boy holds a sign in support of a school mask mandate at Williamson County Schools' special called board meeting in Franklin, Tenn. on Tuesday, August 10, 2021.

Miguel is a first grader with a rare genetic disorder and intellectual disability. After a year of improvement, he began to injure himself at home again out of frustration while his mother did her best to keep him engaged and stimulated at home.

Serena, a curious 4 year old with autism, is described by her parents as losing some of her hard fought developmental milestones after her therapies were stopped.