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Douglas Andrews / Jul. 23, 2020

For Our Kids' Sake, Open the Schools

The Left's no-school stance is becoming less tenable and less family-friendly.

The first two sentences of Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed were a masterpiece of straightforward simplicity: “Schools should open in the fall. It’s critical for meeting the educational and social needs of children.”

It’d be hard to improve on those 17 words, and Gottlieb doesn’t. Instead, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration spends the rest of his column walking an epidemiological tightrope — a tightrope that’s suspended just six inches off the ground. We now know that, despite the well-known caveats, schools are the best place for most children, and probably the safest place, too. But beyond Gottlieb’s forceful “Schools should open” viewpoint, he seemed unwilling to take a side in this critical discussion.

Missing from Gottlieb’s piece is the latest news out of the United Kingdom about the risk to teachers of being infected by their students — a risk that at this point seems to be, well, nonexistent. As the Times of London reports, “There has been no recorded case of a teacher catching the coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world, according to one of the government’s leading scientific advisers. Mark Woolhouse, a leading epidemiologist and member of the government’s Sage committee, told The Times that it may have been a mistake to close schools in March given the limited role children play in spreading the virus.”

“…anywhere in the world.” (Well, assuming that’s true, which has been called into question.)

Are there any other parents out there — parents who watched their kids struggle through week after week of sleep-inducing online coursework — who think, like Dr. Woolhouse, “that it may have been a mistake to close schools in March”?

James Freeman, also writing in The Wall Street Journal, poses an excellent question in his headline: “Do teachers have an excuse for missing class?” Freeman also cites the UK study, and then he adds, “Around the world, citizens have perhaps become more wary lately of the claims of epidemiologists. But at a minimum this report puts new pressure on lockdown advocates to produce evidence of alleged harms to justify school closures. This also creates a rather awkward moment for U.S. teachers unions and their media friends.”

Awkward, indeed, because the unions and their media enablers have been disingenuously prattling on about the safety of “the children,” when the science seems to say otherwise. If we didn’t know better, we’d swear this cabal wasn’t concerned about the kids at all; that it was instead sowing chaos and confusion within American families all across the nation in an effort to hurt Donald Trump and help Joe Biden. Call it the Left’s BIG Lie about getting back to school.

The president, meanwhile, has made his position perfectly clear. And he’s willing to put his family’s skin in the game.

Of course, the president is not alone here. In an NBC News interview last week, “five top pediatricians across the country” were unanimous on this point: “The benefits of being in the classroom far outweigh the risk of getting the disease.” And when asked directly about letting their own children go back to school, they responded: “I will. My kids are looking forward to it.” “Yes, period.” “Absolutely. As much as I can. Without a hesitation, yes.” “I have no concerns about sending my child to school in the fall.” “I would let my kids go back to school.”

As for the larger medical community, the American Academy of Pediatrics has seen enough of online learning to know what’s best for the kids. Recently, it issued this clinical guidance: “The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”

With each passing day, the Left’s anti-science stance becomes less tenable and less family-friendly. Remember this on November 3.

(Updated.)

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