Covid-19 is a strange phenomenon without any proven how-to guides. Recommendations and contradictions surrounding Covid-19 and schools have raised uncertainty. When there’s a lack of clarity, people become suspicious of what they’re told, and they wonder what and who to believe.
Parents and Teachers Can’t Agree
Many parents believe schools are safe, few children get sick, Covid-19 is not real or not as bad as it’s made to sound, and teachers’ unions are remiss for their caution about in-person learning.
On the other hand, persons of color are hesitant to send their children back to school.
The pandemic has dealt a disproportionately heavy blow to Black Americans. According to CDC data published in September, Black youth accounted for 29 percent of COVID-19 deaths among people under 21, twice the percentage for white youth. The federal agency also found Black children under 18 at a significantly higher risk of hospitalization—almost four times higher than white children and teens.
Mixed Messages From the CDC, Pediatricians and Dr. Fauci
Parents who blame teachers for schools not fully opening, do so partly due to a sloppy push to make schools sound safe from the CDC, pediatricians, and Dr. Fauci.
Many claims ignore problems with school infrastructure and how schools work, while teachers continue to hear about virus dangers, and they see people dying, but hear it’s fine to open school buildings.
Shouldn’t Teacher Vaccinations Have Been a Priority?
It seemed irresponsible for the CDC not to insist that teachers be fully vaccinated before returning to school. Many teachers heard this message as saying they were dispensable.
By now, many teachers have gotten vaccinated, but it hasn’t always been easy. Some places prioritized teachers, and others have not, like Massachusetts.
If the CDC had originally said prioritize teachers before they’re back in school, it would have helped.
Reports Highlight School Privatization Advocates
Since the beginning of this pandemic, the media has highlighted groups and individuals who have always favored privatizing public schools.
The Wall Street Journal New Analysis Seeks to Guide Educators on Reopening Schools cites John Bailey, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank. He has been an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation. The report was co-sponsored by the Evidence Project at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, another group that disparages public education. They also cite McKinsey & Company.
The article generated hateful responses about public schools and teachers.
Reports About Covid-19 Seem Ignored
Who’s discussing the 247 infected in new coronavirus outbreaks at 62 schools, says Michigan’s March 22 school outbreak report? It’s reported as of March 8 that Michigan children going to school are the biggest Covid-19 outbreak in that state.
At least 89 Michigan children who have tested positive for COVID-19 have also developed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a horrific condition in which a child’s heart, kidneys, brain and other organs swell and malfunction. Ten-year-old Dae’shun Jamison of Shelby, Michigan, tragically lost all four limbs before beating MIS-C last month. Fourteen-year-old Honestie Hodges from Grand Rapids did not survive.
Michigan has a new leader in the surge of COVID cases: kids bu Sarah Rahal The Detroit News.
Also, from Virginia:
Serology tests on children in Northern Virginia to determine whether they’ve ever been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, show positivity rates twice that of adults. Children can get quite sick and spread Covid-19 because they’re asymptomatic.
Six to Three Feet
The reality is children will likely not always be 3 feet apart because even when they were supposed to be 6 feet apart, they’re children.
About the 3 feet apart rule:
AFT leader Randi Weingarten says “we are concerned this change has been driven by a lack of physical space rather than the hard science on aerosol exposure and transmission.”
Some say other countries have done well with school openings.
But in Ottawa, Four more Ottawa schools have COVID-19 outbreaks declared as cases rise among students, staff.
In the U.K. Covid absences double in a week as 169k pupils isolate.
SCHOOLS: Belgian Prime Minister says that schools are a hotbed of contamination and that children transmit the virus to their parents.
As result? 50% of all #COVID19 hospitalizations in ???????? are now under age 48 (parents of school children). This is affirmed by the Belgian leader. https://t.co/QoieOty8eG
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) March 22, 2021
Return to the School Building to Take a Test
We hear repeatedly how harmful this virus has been for students at home and their emotional well-being. Our kids are under immense pressure.
So why are students and teachers being sent back into the building for the test? Testing is a billion-dollar industry.
Children Are Like Vaccinated, Except They’re Not
Economist Emily Oster, who has generated controversy, says in The Atlantic that children can be considered vaccinated like Grandma. Go! Have fun!
She says, Some children have serious post-COVID illness (called MIS-C), but this remains extremely rare.
In September, The Washington Post said the coronavirus is killing Hispanic, Black, and American Indian children at much higher numbers than their white peers, according to federal statistics. Here are the numbers.
Many epidemiologists and scientists asked The Atlantic to retract Oster’s article.
Everything is Alright, Except, It’s Not
So, here are contradictions, but one doesn’t have to look far to read feel-good articles telling the public everything is alright when it comes to returning to school. From The Washington Post, Opinion: Schools finally have the road map they need to fully reopen.
Right. And I just clicked my heels and found myself back in Kansas.
Calfas, J. New Analysis Seeks to Guide Educators on Reopening Schools. The Wall Street Journal. March 11, 2021.
Wan, W. Coronavirus kills far more Hispanic and Black children than White youths, CDC study finds. The Washington Post. Sept 13, 2020.
Allen, J.G. and Jenkins, H. Opinion: Schools finally have the road map they need to fully reopen. The Washington Post. March 22, 2021.
Nancy J Flanagan says
Remember–back in the early 80s, when there was a flare-up of Reyes Syndrome? A disease which is far more common in kids, it caused many parents in my school district to keep their children home when one of my students, a 6th grade girl, was diagnosed with it.
Quickly, the word spread: if your child exhibits flu symptoms, don’t give them aspirin. And take them for treatment immediately. Eventually, folks relaxed a bit, with the new knowlege, and the girl who had Reyes returned to school–but everyone knew it was a potentially fatal disease.
So why aren’t we treating COVID the same way–a potentially fatal disease, and dangerous, and highly contagious–and morphing every week into new variants? It might just be that we’ve been living with this for a year, and folks are tired. But mostly, I think it’s been politicized. Over and over, I hear ‘can’t live your life in fear’—but a little fear, right now, as we’re beginning to lick this thing, is justified.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Nancy. I always appreciate your good insight!
Just why is it that three feet social distance in classrooms is now okay when six feet still resulted in outbreaks? With the ability of asymptomatic children to pass the virus not only to classmates but to their families, it just seems silly to rush reopening.They are now allowing pregnant women to receive the vaccination and there is evidence that their babies acquire some immunity from their mothers. It would seem to me that that would indicate that testing among younger children, >16, should be occurring in a systematic manner in the near future.
Nancy Bailey says
I agree. So many questions. Thank you.