Thursday, July 9, 2020

School Reopening - Crisis of Conscience

Whether to return to school, be they primary, secondary, or college, later this year has become another diversionary tactic by the administration. 

The president's statement yesterday, coupled with a nearly unenforceable threat to reduce funding, may be irrationally causing school systems to rethink their plans for Fall semester classes. 

The Wall Street Journal headline reads, Trump Criticizes CDC Guidelines for Reopening Schools

Schools are, and historically in the United States have been, community funded and managed. The president is using this flash-point to divert attention from a miserably implemented coronavirus policy which finds the U.S. as the most incompetent country in the world in dealing with the virus. Successful countries, for instance Italy, shut everything down. We are reopening too quickly, as seen by the recent spike in hospitalizations and ICU bed usage. Opening schools will likely cause the virus to spread even more quickly through the population. And while studies generally indicate that children are not as frequently affected or with the same dire consequences as adults what about the teachers and staff at the schools? And what about the transmission of the disease to parents and siblings and then through the social networks of the community? 

Reopening schools too quickly could be a recipe for disaster which might well ensure that no part of American society is spared the ravages of the pandemic.

Anyone who has been in a school knows that they were not designed with physical (aka social) distancing in mind. Look at the lockers, classroom loading, and cafeterias to name a few. Many school districts are wrestling with these issues. And an even greater concern, given some of the more recent reporting about the airborne nature of the virus, is the condition and quality of the air handling systems which could effectively make schools and school busses as well, petrie dishes for the virus. 

The irrational rush to reopen schools could well cost many more Americans their lives. 

A more measured approach to reopening schools and colleges is consistent with the needs of our society.  

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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