The School Debate

By virtue of the amount of time devoted to any given topic, the media controls public sentiment and behavior. For the past four months they (media) have convinced anyone willing to listen that COVID-19 was a threat to humanity itself. We closed down an entire economy (including schools) in mid-March and parents were forced to home school whether they felt qualified or not. Instead of infection rates falling with the warmer summer months (as many had anticipated) those infection numbers have actually been on the increase. The individuals being infected now are mostly under the age of 35 and are not as ill with the virus. We have also seen a much lower fatality rate in those who are currently being infected. The media only seems to focus on the number of “new cases” and not the lower hospitalization or mortality. The goal of the media is appears to be fear and panic and to promote a belief of presidential mismanagement. The continuous media attention has made COVID-19 the number one concern of Americans. It should come as no surprise then that more Americans are opposed to opening schools in the fall than those in favor of doing so. Our knowledge of COVID-19 is still evolving but from what we know thus far, children are less susceptible and do not appear to transmit the virus to adults. In June the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued their guidelines for re-opening schools in the fall. Titled “COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry.” The AAP is in favor of reopening schools stating, “Schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being and provide our children and adolescents with academic instruction, social and emotional skills, safety, reliable nutrition, physical/speech and mental health therapy, and opportunities for physical activity, among other benefits. Beyond supporting the educational development of children and adolescents, schools play a critical role in addressing racial and social inequity. With the above principles in mind, the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.” The AAP then made specific classroom recommendations based on age groups beginning with pre-K, elementary, secondary and special education.

The AAP made social distancing recommendations for hallways, playgrounds and cafeterias. The guidelines address face coverings, health and emotional support services and cleaning & disinfection. Each school will have to adapt depending on their individual facilities and the resources available to them. The Biden Team has formulated a plan for schools to safely reopen and hopefully the President is working on a similar approach. Other countries have successfully opened their schools without a reported surge in COVID-19 cases. Unlike the influenza and other respiratory viruses, children appear to be less likely to be infected with the virus and also less likely to transmit the infection. It seems the younger the child the less susceptible, especially for those under the age of 10. Even teens seem to play less of a role in the infection than adults. I don’t feel the President should make this a national issue, but leave it up to governors and local school districts to decide. School re-openings can be decided by evaluating regional infection rates and assessing the resources of the community. There are bigger fish to fry Mr. President!

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