Parents and public officials have been asking if it’s safe to send children to school this fall. They should also ask if it’s safe not to. A large body of medical literature suggests that stress and its symptoms, including mental illness, tend to weaken the immune system, leading to inflammation and greater susceptibility to infectious diseases. Lockdowns combined with school closures have been hugely stressful for families. Today’s stressed children could be more vulnerable to disease later in life—or to Covid-19 now.

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