After months of school shutdowns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it’s safe for children to attend school with some precautions.
To provide a safe in-person classroom environment, federal health officials have advised that students wear masks and social distance. However, they also cautioned against playing indoor sports.
“The latest data suggest school settings do not result in rapid spread of COVID-19 when mitigation measures including wearing masks, socially distancing, cohorting students, and good hand hygiene are followed,” a CDC official told The Christian Post.
Empirical studies show that keeping children and adolescents less physically active and disrupting their routine negatively impacts their mental health. Most mental health disorders begin in childhood.
"[R]esearch shows that most children’s mental health disorders begin in childhood and, if not identified and treated early, will impact that child’s development, potentially leading to poor health and social outcomes," Psychology Today reported.
The children most affected by school closure include those from abusive homes and those who rely on schools to provide them with food, according to UNESCO. Social isolation and interrupted learning can have negative impacts on children for years to come.
There is little evidence that schools create the outbreaks seen in nursing homes and meatpacking plants, or contribute to increased transmission, CDC COVID-19 emergency response team member Margaret Honein told The New York Times.
“In-person schooling is critical. Kids need to be and should be in school provided schools can strictly adhere to recommended guidelines to prevent transmission in school settings,” a CDC spokesman told The Christian Post. “Online school should continue to be an option, particularly in areas with high rates of COVID transmission.”
Earlier CDC guidelines recommended long-term school dismissal to stop COVID-19 from spreading. In March, the CDC recommended closing schools for eight weeks or more. The CDC gave these guidelines despite knowing that short-term and medium-term closures didn’t impact the spread of COVID-19.
“Available modeling data indicate that early, short to medium closures do not impact the epi curve of COVID-19 or available health care measures (e.g., hospitalizations). There may be some impact of much longer closures (8 weeks, 20 weeks) further into community spread, but that modelling also shows that other mitigation efforts (e.g., handwashing, home isolation) have more impact on both spread of disease and health care measures. In other countries, those places who closed school (e.g., Hong Kong) have not had more success in reducing spread than those that did not (e.g., Singapore).”
Teachers in Chicago have fought the reopening of schools, pleading fear of death as a reason to not return to their classrooms. Chicago teachers’ unions cast ballots 71% in favor of keeping in-person schools closed.
Union Deputy General Counsel Thad Goodchild also claimed it was too dangerous for schools to reopen.
“The pandemic is temporary; death is permanent,” Goodchild said to the Chicago Tribune.
One Chicago teachers union leader was caught posting photos of herself vacationing in Puerto Rico unmasked while at the same time rallying teachers to oppose returning to their classrooms for in-person instruction.
In other parts of the country, parents have criticized teachers who are unwilling to teach in-person because of COVID-19. Former Marine Aliscia Andrews posted a video of a Virginia father lecturing a school board which kept schools closed.
"You think you’re some sort of martyrs because of the decisions you’re making when the statistics do not lie, that the vast majority of the population is not at risk from this virus,” he said. “The garbage workers who pick up my freakin’ trash risk their lives every day more than anyone in this school system!”