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Parents across the country are facing big questions about schools reopening in the fall. Will they open at all? If they do, what will school be like for the kids? Schools have reopened in Europe and Asia without problems, surely, the same can happen in the United States, right? In California, the decision on whether to reopen schools seems to be largely a political one. As PJM’s Rick Moran noted, “Liberal Los Angeles will be closed, conservative Orange County will open.” It’s sad, but that’s how America rolls these days.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says school most definitely should reopen in the fall, and not only that, it is in the “public health interest” to do so.
“I don’t think I can emphasize it enough, as the director for the Centers for Disease Control, the leading public health agency in the world, it is in the public health interest that these K-12 students to get the schools back open for face-to-face learning,” Redfield told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Friday. “Mental health service, 7.1 million kids get in school. Nutrition, we talked about. Reporting of child abuse, sexual abuse: mandatory in schools. The isolation that these adolescents are feeling, that now is associated with increase—as you mentioned—increased drug overdose deaths and now increased suicides.”
“I think it is really important, as a grandfather, eleven grandkids, I want these kids back in school. I have one grandchild with cystic fibrosis. I want it done smartly, alright? But, I think we have to be honest that the public health and interest of the students in the nation right now is to get a quality education and face-to-face learning and when you do get on with it.”
Children are far more at risk from seasonal flu than COVID-19. With that in mind, schools need to approach reopening schools in a manner than that is designed to protect those who are at risk: those with other illnesses, or teachers in higher-risk age groups. But, kids need to be with other kids, and parents need to be able to work. If the CDC director understands that we can do this, we should all be able to understand this.