Physician Outlook

#OpenSchoolsNow


For The Health Of Students And Teachers Despite Covid-19

Back in March, 2020, federal and state governments decided to temporarily close schools. The concept was to prevent COVID-19 by theoretically interfering with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spread. This was sold to the public, largely through the mainstream media, as “two weeks to stem the spread,” or “two weeks to flatten the curve.” The general idea was to interrupt what was thought to be a possible major vector of viral spread, school-age children en masse in school. As a father of school-age children, and as a school physician, I admit to erring on the side of caution and going to our superintendent’s office in March 2020, advocating for a short temporary break in the children’s schooling. As primary and secondary education systems, and all their many parts, fumbled onto online mechanisms, both teachers and students tried feverishly (no pun intended) to adapt. Parents made temporary child care arrangements to minimize their own already compromised work obligations.

Now we stand in 2021 and in most states, we are up to 46 weeks, and still counting, of closed schools, “to stem the spread.”  Not only did the initial two-week trial fail, but state governments, teachers unions, and others have us repeating the failure, week after week, month after month. Wave after wave of absenteeism, failing grades, social isolation and child/teen suicide taught us all a painful lesson. Why aren’t all schools open, even now, almost a year later?

Who was it that said, “insanity is doing the same thing, day after day, and expecting a different result?” Hindsight is 20/20, but just why are we crushing a generation of our children with masks, isolation and impaired learning? And, why would we create havoc with parents’ ability to work and provide for their families?

Critical hard questions must be asked, but, “cancel culture” will verbally assault and label (and libel) you if you do so publicly. Ask the questions anyway:  If masks work, why are schools, businesses and most of society closed? If masks work, why does the virus still spread rapidly throughout all communities, despite mandatory masking? If children in school spread the virus, why weren’t there major school outbreaks locally, nationally or worldwide. If teachers are at risk in school, why haven’t there been a plethora of cases, spread in this fashion? If vaccines work, why aren’t schools and all elements of society reopened as high-risk segments of the population are vaccinated? Both data and experience show that children and teachers are safer in school than in their personal lives.

Teachers also benefit from in-person school teaching. They benefit from more effective teaching, direct attention and interaction, immediate feedback and non-verbal communication, increased job satisfaction and security, and a host of other benefits. In our region, Southern NJ, both teachers and children who were symptomatic with COVID-19 were usually traced back to their personal lives and family activities. We saw this especially with children’s sleepovers and adult shore-house weekends. Most other activities were relatively safe like shopping in retail stores, brief general socializing and eating outdoors at restaurants.

Any pediatrician or family physician will tell you that children, in general, are of hearty stock.  They resist disease and tend to minimally manifest infectious illness. Because of their vibrant health, youthful immune system exuberance, and minimal symptomatology, they are not the ”super-spreaders” of 2020 political mythology. How dare our elected governors’ mercilessly shame kids about lovingly interacting with their grandparents?! They literally threatened that kids might kill their parents and grandparents! These were the same governors who sent COVID-19 infectious patients to nursing homes and long-term facilities, against facility guidelines from CDC and against facility resistance, only to kill tens of thousands of senior patient deaths nationwide, spreading disease across their regions. This is medical, social, familial, ethical and societal government leadership fraud and outright heresy. Caution and prudence are necessary, but to each his own, within each families’ experience, ideology and risk tolerance.

The bottom line? We cannot allow school closures to further damage our children and the fabric of society. Contact your school superintendent, local school board, state education administration and state governor to ACT NOW on this urgent issue.  #OpenSchoolsNow 

References

Minimal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from paediatric COVID-19 cases in primary schools, Norway, August to November 2020: https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.26.1.2002011

To What Extent Does In-Person Schooling Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19? EVIDENCE FROM MICHIGAN AND WASHINGTON: https://epicedpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/COVID-and-Schools-Dec2020.pdf

Governor Murphy Announces Statewide Stay at Home Order, Closure of All Non-Essential Retail Businesses: https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/20200320j.shtml

Lockdown panic syndrome, and how to fix it: https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2020/04/lockdown-panic-syndrome-and-how-to-fix-it.html

Children’s mental health referrals hit record high as lockdowns and school closures bite: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/08/childrens-mental-health-referrals-hit-record-high-lockdowns/

Surge of Student Suicides Pushes Las Vegas Schools to Reopen: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/24/us/politics/student-suicides-nevada-coronavirus.html

COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child Is Not to Blame: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/146/2/e2020004879

Children are safer in school than at home, math shows: https://www.hoosiertimes.com/herald_times_online/opinion/columns/commentary-children-are-safer-in-school-than-at-home-math-shows/article_decd74da-40b8-11eb-a9c0-67ecac02148b.html

Blame governors in nursing home deaths: Goodwin: https://nypost.com/2020/05/16/blame-governors-for-coronavirus-deaths-in-nursing-homes-goodwin/

You could be killing your parents, grandparents by spreading COVID-19, Murphy tells young N.J. residents: https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/12/you-could-be-killing-your-parents-grandparents-by-spreading-covid-19-murphy-tells-young-nj-residents.html

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