Last week, some fantastic news from the science world should’ve given full-time-schooling advocates real hope. Instead, officials are signaling that we may never return to full in-person learning, at least not like pre-COVID.
A New York Times piece, “Schoolchildren Seem Unlikely to Fuel Coronavirus Surges, Scientists Say,” concluded that, yes, the science says kids should be in school. “The bulk of evidence now suggests only limited transmission from young children to adults.”
That evidence, of course, has existed for months, but the Times piece brought it home for nonbelievers.
Meanwhile, at The Wall Street Journal, David R. Henderson and Ryan Sullivan pointed to new research that shows infection rates in schools to be far lower than in the general population.
“A group of researchers, spearheaded by Brown University Professor Emily Oster, have . . . made available the most comprehensive database on schools and COVID case rates for students and staff since the pandemic started,” they wrote.
The data, covering “almost 200,000 kids across 47 states from the last two weeks of September,” showed an infection rate of 0.13 percent among students and 0.24 percent among staff.
Given such low rates, they made a strong, science-based, cost-benefit argument for opening schools now.
Alas, the science doesn’t matter; we left it behind long ago. Instead, we’re seeing signs that schools may not open for full-time learning for years, if ever — and many of our leaders seem OK with that.
In the city, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told Queens parents Thursday, “There is an opportunity to innovate here that we do not want to pass by.” His brilliant idea: Offer G&T classes to more kids using remote learning — next year. Surely he doesn’t mean the kids will still be in remote classes a year from now, does he?
Actually, it seems he does: “Virtual learning, digital learning, mixed environments, digital content, digital supports will always be part of the new normal as we educate students,” he said.
Ouch. The prospect that our kids may still be doing remote learning in a year — or even six months from now — should alarm every parent. What’s the upside? Is there someone out there who believes remote learning in the city is superior to in-class learning?
Gov. Cuomo, meanwhile, keeps suggesting schools are a giant danger. In August he said if he had school-age children, he wouldn’t send them back. This month, he closed schools in areas with slightly elevated COVID infection rates.
“The schools are important, because you will very often see the schools be a place of transmission,” Dr. Cuomo lectured.
That’s a lie: Read the Times. Read the Journal. Schools are not major sources of COVID spread.
Besides, if kids are such superspreaders, why did Cuomo put them last on his vaccination schedule for New York? Doesn’t he want to stop transmission?
Fact is, our political leaders, in New York and elsewhere, appear to have made the calculation that, amid COVID, education is just not that important. But how long can families go with kids at home and inferior instruction? Why are we waiting for a vaccine, when we don’t know when it’ll arrive or how effective it’ll be?
A few weeks ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he foresees social distancing and masks continuing into 2022. And who knows? It could be longer. Keeping schools closed that long will harm families immeasurably.
And if we’re not going to wait, then let’s open them now.
During last week’s debate, when President Trump suggested he’s eager to reopen schools, Joe Biden mocked him, sarcastically rephrasing his words (and doing his best to scare folks): “All you teachers out there, not that many of you are going to die. So don’t worry about it.”
C’mon, Joe. To suggest many teachers will die is to reject science. And if we continue to treat schools as deadly germ factories sure to kill its occupants, kids and parents will suffer.
The rest of the world has prioritized children and education and opened schools full-time. It’s an embarrassment that America’s major cities have no plan to do the same and that so many of our leaders spend their time fear-mongering instead.