One of the biggest arguments on today, both in individual states and jurisdictions and nationwide, is whether kids should be sent back to school this fall with the novel coronavirus pandemic still going on. And as most schools were previously scheduled to start back up in just a few short weeks, some find themselves no closer to a final decision.
President Trump, as well as First Lady Melania, has made it clear it is their goal to get children physically back into the classroom. However, as leaders of our nation living in one location, they understand that not all states have experienced the same level of infection due to COVID-19 as others. Neither do they presume to know what is best for each state and jurisdiction.
Therefore, the decision on whether they should be allowed to return to school has mostly been left up to state and local government officials.
Some such as in higher populated states such as California and New York have shown more hesitancy towards sending kids back. In fact, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that schools shouldn’t be reopened until there is an effective vaccine.
However, other states such as Florida and, now, South Dakota, have made it clear that not sending students back in the coming weeks would only hurt their communities, not help them.
Now, Democrats would love to tell you that these latter mentioned states are not looking at the facts, that they are ignoring science, and in doing so, are putting their entire population at risk.
But as South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem explained in a recent statement, she and her staff have based their decision to reopen schools across the state solely on the “science, facts, and data.” And according to all available science: “we need to open them.”
In announcing her decision to personally reopen all South Dakota schools, she explains firstly that according to science, children just aren’t that much at risk of getting COVID-19. She said, “A JAMA Pediatrics report states, ‘Our data indicate that children are at far greater risk of critical illness from influenza than from COVID-19.” As we all know, schools aren’t closing down because of the flu.
Furthermore, Noem notes that the virus, even when applied to children, seems to behave differently than it does in adults. It doesn’t act like the flu when children get it. Instead, it is much milder.
In addition, both SickKids, Toronto’s world-renowned hospital for sick children, and Switzerland’s head of public health, Daniel Koch, agree that children don’t really spread the virus. According to SickKids, “evidence is mounting that children may be less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and may be less likely to transmit the virus to others.” In fact, studies show that when children do get it, they do so from an adult, not another child.
This means that if teachers are worried about getting infected, their main concern should be other adults, not the student who they are teaching, as the odds are much less likely that a) the children have it at all or b) that they will spread it. And as both Noem and Stanford University’s Scot Atlas points out, most teachers and school staff in the US are under the age considered to be most at risk.
Noem states that if there are teachers who feel they are at risk due to age or other health issues, then options for social distancing, mask-wearing, etc. will be given, as well as possible distance learning. However, for the most part, her state will start usual face to face classes soon and will not push the mandate of masking.
She and others believe this is what is best for our nation’s student population. Noem notes that while “long-distance learning may have gotten us through the initial crisis,” it is not a “long-term solution.” She cites as evidence of this that, according to the NWEA, “students will return to school in the fall with roughly 70 percent of learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year, and less than 50 percent in math.”
In addition, South Dakota, as well as other states, have noted that over an entire third of their students have fallen off the map in regards to schooling since they “went online.” “Some schools… haven’t heard from as many as a third of their kids since March.” And as Noem says, “This cannot continue.”
We have to get our kids back on track to a better future. And according to science and data, the best way to do that is to send our kids back to school.