We Can Reopen Schools if We Put Aside Politics and Look at the Science
When the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns hit the U.S., the 2019-2020 school year fell to the wayside. Sports and entertainment events were canceled, as were school trips and end-of-the-year parties. High school seniors missed their senior proms and were forced to graduate over Zoom. The shutting down of America’s school systems, undoubtedly, had a significant impact on the mental, physical, and educational well-being of America’s children.
The issue of whether or not to open the schools this fall has turned into a profoundly political and divisive issue.
On the side of reopening the schools is Donald Trump and the Republicans. “So what we want to do is we want to get our schools open. We want to get them open quickly, beautifully, in the fall. And the—as you know, this is a disease that’s a horrible disease, but young people do extraordinarily well,” Trump said at a press conference last month.
The Democrats, on the other hand, are vehemently opposed to reopening the schools. “Trump and the Republicans want to take big risks, but Americans want to be cautious, and that’s the basic problem here. Americans feel Trump and Republicans are trying to push them into situations where their health is in danger, and it’s causing them big problems,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon.
The rhetoric on both sides is getting hotter with each passing day. But what do the facts say?
First off, it is scientifically accepted that COVID-19 does not affect kids in the same way it does adults. Dr. Silvia Chiang, an assistant professor at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, told The New York Times: “The findings currently are pointing to a likelihood that young children have a lower risk of becoming infected and maybe even a lower risk of transmitting. I think it’s an evolving situation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those are the conclusions that we end up drawing.”
Scientists currently do not know for sure why kids are less likely to be severely affected by the coronavirus, but some suspect it might be on the cellular level. When COVID-19 infects the body, it attaches itself to the human cell by docking on the ACE2 receptor. Children have fewer ACE2 receptors than adults.
In New Jersey, one of the hardest-hit states, only two children under the age of 18 have died of COVID-19. It’s a tragedy, but it does not spell catastrophe.
For children under the age of 5, only 17 have died in the U.S. from coronavirus as of July 11. That’s roughly one-third the numer that have died of the flu in that same period. Serious question: if we don’t shut down for the flu, why should we for COVID-19? If your answer is something to the effect: “we don’t want the kids to affect the teachers and their families at home.” Fair enough. But the science is beginning to show that kids are weak transmitters of the virus. It has been speculated that this is due to the fact that children have smaller lungs and are, thus, unable to push virus-infected droplets out.
None of this is to say that we should throw caution to the wind. In fact, an AP-NORC poll found that 61% of all adults think schools should reopen with major and minor adjustments. These adjustments include daily disinfecting, mandatory mask-wearing, temperature checks, and social distancing. This is common sense.
Many teachers have come out in opposition to reopening the schools. In New York, a group of protesters went so far as to march through the streets dragging coffins. Sure, some older teachers with preexisting conditions have a reason for concern and should be allowed to stay home for the year.
However, it appears that the young and healthy teachers have taken advantage of a tough situation to push a personal political agenda. A “National Day of Resistance” was organized by dozens of teachers unions to protest and issue a series of demands. Their demands include the cancellation of mortgages and rents, a “massive infusion of federal money,” the abolition of charter schools and standardized tests, and “police-free schools.”
The way in which the teachers unions have used this pandemic to blackmail the country into giving in to their insane, leftist demands is disgraceful and disgusting. What does having a “police-free school” have to do with ensuring safety from a virus?
In reality, the teachers aren’t worried about the virus. They sense an opportunity to push a radical agenda and get rid of their competition (charter schools) and accountability (standardized testing).
The Democrats don’t want to give Trump a win by allowing the schools to reopen. They want the country to stay shut down and the economy to continue tanking all the way until November.
The Left is ignoring the necessity that is the public school system. Kids need to be learning and socializing to advance. We cannot allow COVID-19 to hamper down the growth of a whole generation of children. And what about the one-parent households that need to be able to work to put food on the table? How can someone work a full-time job with kids not being ready to go to school?
The reopening of America’s schools is undoubtedly a complex issue. But it is something we can do if we put aside politics, look at the science, and think like mature adults.
Author Bio: Stevie Clark is a writer ad has worked as a support staff educator. She is well-versed in issues of education policy. She co-runs an education website with the mission of donating essential school supplies to needy children every year.
Image credit: Pixabay public domain