Opening schools have numerous benefits ranging from helping reduce child hunger to supplying child care for working parents. I recognize that there are enormous pressures to open schools, and the CDC is standing firm that IF specific safety measures are taken, it will be safe.
I have several concerns that seem to be looked over, brushed aside, and even demonized by the news media and politicians. I am not a teacher, but I am the brother, cousin, and nephew of teachers. The state of Texas opened schools up months ago, and my little sister, who is the most careful person I know during the COVID crisis, was forced back to school to teach. With the only thing that changed in her routines was returning to school, she contracted COVID along with several of her colleagues (she had a mild case and recovered with no ill side effects).
I am so happy that we have President Biden, but even the White House seems to be blasting this horn of returning to school IF proper safety measures are taken and followed. I am grateful they are following the science, but at what point do you mix common sense into the equation. I know many doctors and scientists, and sometimes they lack common sense, allowing numbers and facts to dictate everything. I am very similar; I love facts, rules, and numbers. At some point, you have to step back and try to get a big picture perspective. Right now, everyone seems to be mainly looking at the economy to guide this decision. I am not really for the whole idea of “The Free Market”; I am a “Well Regulated Market” kind of person. I have a serious issue when we allow “The Market” to guide our response to such a severe health crisis. I believe in social responsibility above all else. I am more worried about my neighbor and fellow human beings than the economy.
Let’s be realistic, how many people with young children really believe that these kids will keep their mask on all day at school (and correctly), will refrain from touching those masks, and maintain 2 meters from their friends? I don’t have kids, I only have a niece and nephews, and I know that isn’t going to happen. I know that children don’t usually get sick from COVID, but they can carry and spread the virus. These kids will be spending all day around teachers (younger kids will spend the entire day around the same teacher usually), wearing a cloth mask. Yes, masks reduce the risk of transmission, but only by a percentage. These teachers still have a chance of contracting the virus from these children. The children could also spread asymptomatic cases to one another and then go home to mom, dad, older siblings, grandma, and grandpa and spread it to their families.
I know the CDC has stated that according to their research, they believe that it will be safe with precautions, but I will be frank, I don’t trust the CDC right now. The CDC the past four years, has been under the Trump administration. The Trump administration suppressed data and pressured officials at the CDC to falsify information regarding COVID. Trump was pushing heavily to reopen schools, citing this (or similar) information. How do we know that the Trump Administration did not influence this research in their efforts to keep Trump’s investment portfolio afloat? I know this might sound paranoid, but I do not believe the CDC had the capabilities to conduct a study like this under the Trump Administration. We have not had adequate testing (thanks to the Trump Administration’s head in the sand COVID policies), we couldn’t perform sufficient contact tracing… because we didn’t have adequate testing. How can the CDC claim that they are confident that opening the schools with the proper precautions will not lead to a serious spike in infections?
I know of one country that we can look at that tried to reopen schools and backfired horribly. Israel had one of the best initial responses to COVID in the world. They have contact tracing. They had their military come in a redo and update their national healthcare system’s computers. They did mass testing once tests were available. They took the virus seriously. Then in May of last year, they attempted to reopen schools, utilizing proper safety precautions. Using their cellular contact tracing systems, they determined that reopening schools was a significant factor in the deadly second COVID wave they are still fighting today. Asymptomatic kids spread it to other kids and their teachers. Those children then spread it to their families. Here is an article from the New York Times about it: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/world/middleeast/coronavirus-israel-schools-reopen.html
I know this might be unpopular, but I am very concerned with the idea of reopening schools; I believe it is premature. Reopening schools should only occur once we have the majority of people over 65, those at higher risk, and school staff vaccinated. That way, if a third wave were to occur because of reopening the schools, the elderly and individuals with health issues would be protected. Our hospitals wouldn’t be overloaded and, hopefully, better care for the younger individuals infected. (Disclaimer: I am not a scientist or doctor. This is just my perspective.)
This push to reopen schools is a political maneuver to appease corporate America. While child hunger is a real and serious issue, I have a terrible feeling that some not so well-intentioned individuals are utilizing this serious issue to reframe the School debate. They are parroting that it is no longer an economic issue; instead, it is an issue of ensuring that the children don’t go hungry. There are ample programs to help feed these children; all the government would need to do is direct funding and human resources to them and utilize free/reduced school meal records and welfare records to direct the aid. We currently have a large portion of the foodservice industry out of work. How much do you want to bet that if President Biden sent out the call for assistance, there would be an outpouring of help from them?
Our economy should not dictate our response to this pandemic!