Brace yourself for thousands of children with Covid-19 to flood hospital ICUs

Hundreds of kids will die because they were forced to attend school.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces that schools will be closed in a televised City Hall speech on March 19, 2020. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces that schools will be closed in a televised City Hall speech on March 19, 2020. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

Well, not exactly. But that's what we supposed to believe. The reality is that thousands upon thousands of school remain closed this fall, denying children their basic right to a quality education based on the unscientific fear that they'd be on death marches if they were to attend schools in-pers0n.

Although schools in some states have been conducting in-classroom learning for weeks--enough time for the novel virus to cause a significant number of Covid-19 cases, nothing of the sort has shown up. By that I mean liberally nothing.

I've search CDC data and reports from some states and I find not a single child has been hospitalized or, thank God, died from COVID-19. I certainly could be wrong, the problem being is that most databases don't break out school-related infections, hospitalizations and deaths. And gathering whatever nation-wide data is available would take a major research effort.

But let me put it this way: Considering how the media are hell-bent on scaring the bejabbers out of us, I'm sure that at the slightest sign of a serious school-related case, the New York Times, Washington Post and the liberal cable news networks would be all over the story. "Pandemic hotspots infect schoolrooms! Your children are at risk!"

What with little available, the Washington Post reports that teachers in "at least" five states have died. (Here is the obligatory sensitivity statement: even one death is too many.) Yet, the same story reports that, "It isn’t clear whether any of the teachers were infected at school." Then there's this gratuitous, unattributed and biased claim: "But their deaths have renewed fears that school campuses will become a breeding ground for the virus, spreading the illness as communities grapple with how to balance the need to educate children with properly addressing the pandemic."

Here's the Washington Post, again, reporting that coronavirus cases in Florida "spike among school-age children," jumping "43 percent" since the "forced" reopening of Florida's schools. Forty-three percent?! Wow. Would that be thousands upon thousands of children, many hospitalized? We don't really know. The Florida Department of Health put the number of positive tests of children under 18 at 10,513. Yet, the same story admits that we don't know how many of those children were infected while in school or even whether those infected were only learning remotely.

One of the reasons we don't know is that Florida irresponsibly is not fully disclosing these and other statistics. And considering the various and checkered history of coronavirus statistics, I'm not sure we could even trust anything that any health department says.

Yet here we are, trying to deal with what we have. I know one teacher whose northeast Florida school has been fully open for weeks, yet says no students have tested positive. Duval County (Jacksonville), initially defying a state order, has created its own dashboard.on the district’s website, Updated daily, it shows the number of students and staff attending or working  in brick-and-mortar schools with confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Charter schools are not included. So  far this month:

screen-shot-2020-09-14-at-11-58-09-am

No cases are shown for hospitalizations or deaths. And like all the pandemic reporting, the emphasis is wrongly placed on the number of positive cases, not on their seriousness (i.e. hospitalizations and deaths).

This school closing nonsense is a headlong plunge into child abuse on a national scale.  Fear has snuffed out the science. From local school boards and state education agencies, they are gripped by unwarranted fear that they might be held liable for any outbreaks. I can hardy blame them, but closings are a matter of self-interest.

The science clearly and irrefutably shows that the closings are seriously, and possibly permanently, damaging children in so many other ways.  Here's what the CDC says:

The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms. Death rates among school-aged children are much lower than among adults.  At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.  Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities.  These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs.

Aside from a child’s home, no other setting has more influence on a child’s health and well-being than their school.  The in-person school environment does the following:

  • provides educational instruction;
  • supports the development of social and emotional skills;
  • creates a safe environment for learning;
  • addresses nutritional needs; and
  • facilitates physical activity.

Schools must open. Now.

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Comments

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  • No one has to convince me, a retired teacher, of the benefits of the critical importance of face to face learning in the classroom, and the equally critical importance of the social and psychological benefits of what being in school provides. What bothers me about your column is your failure to address the justifiable other side of the argument.: the fact that we do have a pandemic.

    To say "Open the schools" carte blanche may be quite possible in some cases, but to say that across the board is irresponsible, to say the least.

    When you quote the CDC in the future, at least warn your readers that theTrump administration is now putting its own spin on its messaging to align it with Trump's talking points. That would be fair and balanced, and good journalism.

  • Teachers have to suck it up and be as least as brave as the 7-11 clerk or Jewel cashier or server that THEY see a couple of times a week. They must go back to the classroom for "the children" and be as brave as those mentioned who are paid a whole lot less to service THEM.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    We're talking about the health, well-being, and lives of children too.

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