As many of you are no doubt aware the CDC guidelines for reopening public schools were quite stringent and relied on a reduction of new Covid-19 cases in the communities and the implementation of increased testing and adherence to social distancing guidelines.

Well, none of that has exactly happened, and in fact, cases of the Coronavirus have skyrocketed just about everywhere in the country. 

And yet last night the CDC came out with new guidelines that emphasized the importance of returning children to classrooms despite the inherent dangers. 

Which is of course exactly what Trump has been pushing for in the last few weeks. 

You can read the entire statement at this link.

Here are some of the highlights:

Scientific studies suggest that COVID-19 transmission among children in schools may be low. International studies that have assessed how readily COVID-19 spreads in schools also reveal low rates of transmission when community transmission is low. Based on current data, the rate of infection among younger school children, and from students to teachers, has been low, especially if proper precautions are followed. There have also been few reports of children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members. This is consistent with data from both virus and antibody testing, suggesting that children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community. No studies are conclusive, but the available evidence provides reason to believe that in-person schooling is in the best interest of students, particularly in the context of appropriate mitigation measures similar to those implemented at essential workplaces.

I should remind you that in one summer camp there were 85 infections, that three summer school teachers were infected and one died, and that the CDC’s own internal documents stated that reopening schools posed the “highest risk” for spreading the virus. 

So what changed?

Here are more rationalizations:

Extended school closure is harmful to children. It can lead to severe learning loss, and the need for in-person instruction is particularly important for students with heightened behavioral needs. Following the wave of school closures in March 2020 due to COVID-19, academic learning slowed for most children and stopped for some. A survey of 477 school districts by the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education found that, “far too many schools are leaving learning to chance.” Just one in three school districts expected teachers to provide instruction, track student engagement, or monitor academic progress for all students, and wealthy school districts were twice as likely to have such expectations compared to low-income districts.

We also know that, for many students, long breaks from in-person education are harmful to student learning. For example, the effects of summer breaks from in-person schooling on academic progress, known as “summer slide,” are also well-documented in the literature. According to the Northwest Evaluation Association, in the summer following third grade, students lose nearly 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math. By the summer after seventh grade, students lose on average 39 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 50 percent of their school-year gains in math. This indicates that learning losses are large and become even more severe as a student progresses through school. The prospect of losing several months of schooling, compared to the few weeks of summer vacation, due to school closure likely only makes the learning loss even more severe.

Disparities in educational outcomes caused by school closures are a particular concern for low-income and minority students and students with disabilities. Many low-income families do not have the capacity to facilitate distance learning (e.g. limited or no computer access, limited or no internet access), and may have to rely on school-based services that support their child’s academic success. A study by researchers at Brown and Harvard Universities assessed how 800,000 students used Zearn, an online math program, both before and after schools closed in March 2020. Data showed that through late April, student progress in math decreased by about half, with the negative impact more pronounced in low-income zip codes. Persistent achievement gaps that already existed before COVID-19, such as disparities across income levels and races, can worsen and cause serious, hard-to-repair damage to children’s education outcomes. Finally, remote learning makes absorbing information more difficult for students with disabilities, developmental delays, or other cognitive disabilities. In particular, students who are deaf, hard of hearing, have low vision, are blind, or have other learning disorders (e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) and other physical and mental disabilities have had significant difficulties with remote learning.

Do you know what? All of that is absolutely true.

It was also disruptive to the education of English children to have them running into bunkers during World War 2, or being shipped out of London to live with strangers during the blitz, but it was done to save their lives and ensure there would be a next generation.  

We are in a similar situation right now. 

The rest of the statement talks about the need for socialization, physical activities, nutrition, and social and emotional skill development. 

All very good points but none of them overrule the need to keep our children from getting sick, and bringing that sickness home to their families. 

And that includes their teachers too of course. 

Here is the last part of this document:

Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of our communities, as they provide safe, supportive learning environments for students, employ teachers and other staff, and enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to work. Schools also provide critical services that help meet the needs of children and families, especially those who are disadvantaged, through supporting the development of social and emotional skills, creating a safe environment for learning, identifying and addressing neglect and abuse, fulfilling nutritional needs, and facilitating physical activity. School closure disrupts the delivery of in-person instruction and critical services to children and families, which has negative individual and societal ramifications. The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission, and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus. Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets—our children—while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families.

Once again if this were a case where the government was trying to close down schools for virtually any other reason I would be right there making these very same points and demanding that today’s children have access to the same educational opportunities that all of us enjoyed as children.

But we are in unique circumstances here, and this decision does not feel, in any way, to be driven by the science, but instead by the desires of a certain orange-tinted maniac. 

And speaking of him, guess what his son’s school is considering.

Courtesy of NYT:

The school attended by President Trump’s son will not fully reopen in September out of concern over the coronavirus pandemic despite the president’s insistence that students across the country be brought back to classrooms in the fall.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, a private school in Washington’s Maryland suburbs, said in a letter to parents that it was still deciding whether to adopt a hybrid model for the fall that would allow limited in-person education or to resume holding all classes completely online as was done in the spring. The school will decide early next month which option to follow.

Yeah, Trump’s son is likely to be doing his learning online for the foreseeable future. 

But Trump, and now his sycophants at the CDC, see no problem in sending your children into an environment that may spread this virus to the point where it will decimate entire families, neighborhoods, counties, or even cities. 

Well, I for once am definitely not okay with that.