by William Skink
There is an unspoken rule that if Trump supports something, then it must be bad. This perspective doesn’t care about logic or evidence. Trump is such an obvious, orange-skinned menace that if he supports something, the reactionary resistance must oppose it.
Getting school-age kids back into school, like everything else about this pandemic, has become a partisan issue, with Trump coming down on the side of reopening. For parents like me who see the dire need for their kids to be back among their peers, and who see the risk of transmission as being fairly minimal, the hope that my kids could get a small modicum of normalcy by returning to school next month is disappearing with every article like this (from Politico):
President Donald Trump has been on a rampage against public schools and colleges all week, threatening to use the power of the federal government to strong-arm officials into reopening classrooms.
But his effort is now creating a backlash: An overwhelming alignment of state and even Republican-aligned organizations oppose the rush to reopen schools. The nation’s leading pediatricians, Republican state school chiefs, Christian colleges and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have all challenged parts of Trump’s pressure campaign.
The politicization of this critical topic ensures logic and rational thinking won’t be widely deployed to assess the actual risk of reopening schools.
So far it looks like kids are not serious vectors in the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus:
A commentary published in the journal Pediatrics, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, concludes that children infrequently transmit Covid-19 to each other or to adults and that many schools, provided they follow appropriate social distancing guidelines and take into account rates of transmission in their community, can and should reopen in the fall.
In a French study, a boy with Covid-19 exposed over 80 classmates at three schools to the disease. None contracted it. Transmission of other respiratory diseases, including influenza transmission, was common at the schools.
In a study in New South Wales, nine infected students and nine staff across 15 schools exposed a total of 735 students and 128 staff to Covid-19. Only two secondary infections resulted, one transmitted by an adult to a child.
“The data are striking,” said Dr. Raszka. “The key takeaway is that children are not driving the pandemic. After six months, we have a wealth of accumulating data showing that children are less likely to become infected and seem less infectious; it is congregating adults who aren’t following safety protocols who are responsible for driving the upward curve.”
The health department in Missoula seems to be backing up this claim when they exempted children under the age of 12 from the mask requirement for public spaces. I don’t think the Missoula County Health Department would exempt kids if there wasn’t evidence indicating they are not transmitting the virus.
Are Democrats going to feel obligated to oppose reopening schools now that Trump has strongly come out in support of reopening? What do Democrats actually believe about the safety of kids returning to school? How do they conduct their personal lives?
To answer that last question, I was at Walmart the other day stocking up on necessities (Legos) when I noticed a masked-up state representative with three kids in tow. None of the kids looked to be over the age of 12, and that’s good because none of them were wearing masks as they ran all over the place while the Democratic politician was at self-checkout scanning her groceries.
This Democrat politician obviously doesn’t see her kids as potential vectors for transmitting the virus. If she did, then her actions could be interpreted as dangerous and/or reckless. Personally, I don’t bring my kids along with me to shop for groceries because if there is any risk, keeping them at home is an easy mitigation step to take. But if I had to take them with me, I wouldn’t feel bad about keep their faces mask-free.
Getting kids back to school is not just important for our kids and their academic/emotional development, it’s also critically important for all the struggling parents out there feeling immense anxiety about the uncertainty of reopening.
If schools don’t reopen next month, what are parents going to do for child care? If they can find child care, will they be able to afford it? How many people still out of work have school-aged kids? Are kids going to have to wear masks at school? At recess?
There are many questions with no clear answers, and every day brings scarier and scarier headlines about the resurgence of cases. As fear rises, the ability to think rationally diminishes, making us more susceptible to exploitation by the sociopaths who see this pandemic as an amazing opportunity to seize more power and wealth for themselves.