Dr. Elizabeth Pinsky said she is confounded by Gov. Charlie Baker's continued stance that restaurants and retail stores can remain open while Massachusetts schools have overwhelmingly been forced online.

"I cannot wrap my brain around that decision not to be scaling back right now," Pinsky, a child psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Boston Public Radio on Monday. "We know that indoor, masks-down eating and drinking with people who are not in your household is dangerous. The decision to leave those things open — I understand it's complicated, and I am incredibly sympathetic to small businesses — (but) those things need to shut down. It doesn't matter what we're doing with schools."

Pinsky said she has seen a rise in children experiencing anxiety and depression, as well as an increase in children entering the emergency room in crisis with thoughts of self-harm and suicidal ideations.

"All of those things have been as bad as we thought they would be, and in some cases worse than we thought they would be," she said.

Pinsky's comments come as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Massachusetts, placing increased pressure on Gov. Charlie Baker to institute new restrictions.

Pinsky argued for a level of urgency in responding to this new wave of cases.

"My own opinion as someone who works in the hospital, sometimes in the emergency room, we need to close (other indoor environments) because people are going to die," not just because schools need to reopen, she said.

Given that there are ways to mitigate risks in schools — like rigorous mask-wearing, handwashing, and physical distancing — Pinsky said there is little evidence of community spread stemming from schools compared to things like restaurants.

Citing the educational and emotional impact of the pandemic, including long-term remote learning, Pinsky said she is frustrated that schools have remained largely closed while other aspects of society have continued to operate, such as restaurants, malls and casinos.

"At a certain point, you need to say that (schools) should be last things to close and first things to open, because they are so low risk compared to other indoor environments," she said.

She rejected the notion that closing schools is a meaningful way to stem the spread, noting Cambridge Public Schools' recent decision to shift to one week of fully remote learning due to a jump in COVID-19 cases in the city.

"Because transmissions are so low in schools, that's going to have very little impact on the rates in Cambridge," she said. "Shutting the schools is not going to be the thing that turns things around in Cambridge. To do that and leave other things open is neither good for children nor is it (an) effective public health intervention."

As for the mental health of those dealing with long-term remote learning, Pinsky offered some seemingly simple but oft-overlooked advice for parents of young children: take care of yourself first — make sure you're getting adequate sleep and exercise — so you are better equipped to respond to your children's needs.