The nation's fifth largest school district – Las Vegas' Clark County, Nevada – continues to suffer from high COVID-19 infection rates, but it is the pace of student suicides that is leading it to push for returning kids to school.
"When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn't just the COVID numbers we need to look at anymore," Clark County Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara told The New York Times.
"We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They've got to start seeing some movement, some hope."
Former President Donald Trump had long sought to get kids back to school shortly after the nation's 30 days to slow the spread abated, but teachers unions have demanded schools remain closed as a matter of teacher and public safety.
Now, the Biden administration sides more with Trump than the unions.
"Every day, it feels like we have run out time," Dr. Jara told the Times, with his district seeing 18 suicides in the past nine months of school lockdowns.
"I couldn't sleep with my phone nearby anymore," he added, having lost a 9-year-old to suicide. "It was like a 24-hour reminder that we need to get our schools open.
"I can't get these alerts anymore. I have no words to say to these families anymore. I believe in God, but I can’t help but wonder: Am I doing everything possible to open our schools?
"I feel responsible," Dr. Jara told the Times. "They're all my kids."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported youth emergency room visits for mental health issues has risen, with the CDC's Greta Massetti telling the Times it is "definitely reason to be concerned because it makes conceptual sense."
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