President Trump is hellbent on getting kids back into classrooms, even in parts of the country now drowning in coronavirus, so their parents can get back to work. His secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, says, “More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don’t get it and transmit it themselves.” The CDC has just issued new recommendations urging schools to reopen, two weeks after Trump attacked it for saying otherwise.
We want youngsters, especially disadvantaged ones who will fall further behind if forced to learn remotely, back in classrooms. We also want to keep their teachers, parents and grandparents — more than 3 million senior citizens in America live with school-aged children — healthy.
The only way to make sound judgments is with sound science. It is true that children don’t suffer from COVID-19 as adults do. Research from France, Germany and Australia shows schoolkids only infecting others in rare cases. But in these places, children went back to class when infection levels were far, far, far lower than they are in U.S. hotspots now.
And for every reassuring piece of evidence, there is an unnerving one. In Syracuse, an at-home daycare spawned a COVID cluster. In Israel, reopening schools fueled a virus resurgence. A South Korean study says kids can spread the virus as much as adults can.
This just isn’t simple. With extreme and costly precautions in place, more schools can open more safely. Trump and DeVos offer only propaganda and pressure.
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