Covid has brought out the finest in government mismanagement. Now it is being applied to schools.
Does anyone believe the notion that students will be safer attending school two and a half days a week, instead of five? Who dreamed this up? Do they think if your child inhales 1/2 as much virus, or uses the public bathrooms half as often, they will be appreciably safer? Do the schools think that a “deep cleaning” (whatever that is, since it was never specified) even done daily, is going to stop viral transmission? There are no data that say it will.
“Hybrid” schooling still prevents parents from going back to work, so it does serve the purpose of reducing economic activity. In other words, it perpetuates the economic crash that the lockdowns initiated. This, by the way, has a very adverse effect on lots of children.
One school I heard about is planning to build plexiglass partitions around each desk, on 3 sides, with 6 feet between the children. I think they are also cancelling lunchroom, recess, music and sports. Some are requiring masks all day, even on kindergartners.
The 6′ distance rule is a totally arbitrary creation invented by CDC, after their prior 3′ rule, combined with inadequate PPE recommendations, did not adequately protect healthcare workers during the Ebola epidemic. See my 2014 post on this. There is no science to support it. You heard me right. It is invented out of thin air, an expensive charade, to make everyone think that Covid risks can be controlled. But, only with extreme measures…like halving classroom size and ruining the economy. The World Health Organization, however, thinks 1 meter (i.e., 3 feet, or to be precise, 39.37 inches) for social distancing is sufficient:
“Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.”
If the WHO is correct, then our classrooms can safely accommodate all the students who wish to attend, and we don’t need the new “hybrid” system.
Most schools are stuck with inadequate ventilation systems. Their students and teachers will be exposed to viral transmission via aerosols (small particles containing virus that can remain suspended in air for hours). But only rarely is this discussed. Fixing schools’ air handling systems might be more valuable than keeping children’ desks 6 feet apart.
UPDATE March 7: For the first time, on February 26, 2021, it was reported that CDC advised better ventilation to reduce the risk of Covid, for example by opening windows. Duh! And now CDC recommends opening windows to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Why did it take our premier public health agency a year to inform us that opening windows reduces exposure to aerosolized indoor Covid virus? Were they afraid the truth might reduce nonsensical mask wearing outdoors? Or that it might reduce Covid cases?
We are supposed to think the extreme measures being imposed are going to solve the transmission problem. However, kids will be kids, no matter what rules are imposed. Their masks will do nothing, if they even stay on. They will find ways to play with each other. We can’t turn them into robots, and we should not be trying.
UPDATE Aug 12: 45,000 Maine families were polled about returning their children to school. Some results:
“while 60 percent of parents believe their schools can implement state-required measures to prevent the coronavirus’ spread, less than 40 percent of parents had faith that students would adhere to the rules. Just 34 percent thought students would be able to avoid congregating, 35 percent thought they would be able to avoid physical contact, 35 percent thought they would maintain social distancing and 38 percent thought students would wear masks in school.”
So why are our political leaders imposing an inhumane ‘hybrid’ experiment on parents, teachers and children?
Can we please have some common sense regarding schools?
As of July 14, only ONE child in Canada had died from Covid. As of July 19, only 29 Americans under age 14 had died of Covid. UPDATE Aug 10: The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 86 US children have died from Covid, while 20 states report no child deaths through July 30.
Between 110 and 188 American children died yearly from influenza in the past four years. CDC estimates the actual numbers may be 2.5 times higher.
So far, Covid has been a rare disease for children. I read in two places that a) 50% and b) 70% of children who died from Covid had a preexisting condition. Multiple studies that have examined child to child, and child to adult transmission of Covid, are published in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics, They found that spread of Covid by children is a rare event. The review concludes:
“Almost 6 months into the pandemic, accumulating evidence and collective experience argue that children, particularly school-aged children, are far less important drivers of SARSCoV-2 transmission than adults. Therefore, serious consideration should be paid toward strategies that allow schools to remain open, even during periods of COVID-19 spread. In doing so, we could minimize the potentially profound adverse social, developmental, and health costs that our children will continue to suffer until an effective treatment or vaccine can be developed and distributed or, failing that, until we reach herd immunity.”
Public health is supposed to be about balancing risks and benefits, and choosing interventions that will clearly provide a net overall benefit. Hybrid schooling is not a public health measure. It’s just another degrading and expensive charade.
While some children and teachers will no doubt get Covid in schools, and a few will die, that is what happens in life. Some students and teachers die each year from flu, or pneumonia, and other viruses. We can’t stop this. We should stop pretending that we can.
And we should admit that an untested and unprecedented educational experiment, the “hybrid” school, is unlikely to provide students an education comparable to the past.
Once children have been exposed to Covid, the vast majority (probably 99+%) will have asymptomatic disease or a mild case. And then they will be immune, and then we can relax our fear for them. Isn’t that a better outcome?
Either keep children locked up at home, or send them back to a regular school program, in which the risk to children and teachers exists, but is very low.
Can we follow the facts, and have an honest discussion about this?
UPDATE Aug 13: Scotland is sending its children back to regular school this week, without masks. The rest of the UK will also be reopening regular schools. “New York City is poised to be the only one of the country’s 10 largest school districts to open schools for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.” As of Aug 28, things seem to be going well.
UPDATE Aug 28: An Aug 25 British Medical Journal article (current name is BMJ) reviewed the 6 foot distancing rule, and produced 4 key messages:
- Current rules on safe physical distancing are based on outdated science
- Distribution of viral particles is affected by numerous factors, including air flow
- Evidence suggests SARS-CoV-2 may travel more than 2 m through activities such as coughing and shouting
- Rules on distancing should reflect the multiple factors that affect risk, including ventilation, occupancy, and exposure time