This heartbreaking New York Times story is a perfect example of why I don’t support remote options.

Anthony LaMesa
3 min readJun 15, 2022

Parents have struggled to assess risk during the pandemic.

I wrote last year that so-called remote options — offered by Atlanta, Los Angeles, and other U.S. cities, but uncommon in Europe — are a potential child rights issue, because children may be forced into remote instruction by scared parents when the ideal learning environment for the vast majority of children is the classroom. After reading an article today about parents isolating their unvaccinated children, I am more confident than ever about the potential harms of remote options.

In the article, parents describe how they’ve basically kept their unvaccinated children under five in extreme lockdown-type conditions since March 2020. It is heartbreaking to read.

Ms. Pratt’s son Julian is now 2½ and curious about everything. She ticked off what he missed as other Americans got vaccinated and returned “to the comfort of familiar routines and everyday freedom”:

“He has never even been to a grocery store or a mall,” she wrote. “Never gone trick-or-treating with friends. Never sat on Santa’s lap. Never been to an indoor family gathering. He has yet to meet or spend time with the majority of our friends and family.

“We are on the inside, looking out,” she wrote.

One parent even describes how their isolated toddler didn’t understand that other children were real when he met his first peer.

Many parents expressed anguish that their children might suffer developmental delays because they have never had a play date or any of the usual contact with children their age.

“When my 2.5-year-old had his first friend over to play, he kept touching her to see if she was real,” wrote Lauren Klinger of St. Petersburg, Fla. “It’s soul-crushing.”

As WHO Europe noted in a report published last summer, children need “real-life interactions with peers.”

Schools deliver essential functions beyond education that cannot be delivered online, including the opportunity for real-life interactions with peers, which is essential for healthy development. Online teaching therefore remains a suboptimal alternative.

(For what it’s worth, in Europe, remote options have never really been a thing. Sweden has always had…

Anthony LaMesa

Some thoughts on reopening America’s public schools.