The pandemic has broadened the awareness of the human need for nature, and it certainly extends to how we envision healthy spaces for educating our children, as the article “Thinking outside the building box” (Page A1, Oct. 5).
Education in, about, and for nature has been and continues to be a foundational priority for Mass Audubon. And with the growing body of evidence of both the academic and socioemotional benefits when learning takes place outside, opening the doors to outdoor classrooms is critical.
As COVID-19 affects so many of our institutions, including child care and school-year learning for students everywhere, it’s incumbent upon all of us to value both the physical and psychological benefits the natural world can offer, and to provide as many opportunities as possible to share those benefits with others.
We all appreciate that nature is everywhere — in the cities, the suburbs, and rural areas — and that nature is for everyone, whatever their background, physical ability, race, age, or previous experience outdoors. Let’s take this opportunity to ensure that more of our schools— in all communities — have access to outdoor spaces. These community green spaces are a necessary infrastructure in healthy communities and are a strategy for increasing equity in education, health, and quality of life.
David J. O’Neill