The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the data supports many districts to reopen schools in Washington.
“As I’ve said before, it’s in the public health interest kids K through 12 to get back to face-to-face learning,” Dr. Robert Redfield told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Not only is this important for their academic advancement that it’s really important also for mental health services, frequently nutritional, [and] emotional support for them and their families.”
The recommendation comes as more districts refuse to reopen, instead pushing for remote learning that many parents, students, and health professionals warn against.
Reopen Washington schools
Redfield acknowledges that each school district has to look at the data and make re-opening decisions on their own so that “there’s confidence among teachers and parents and students.” But looking at the data, the argument to open schools reasonably and responsibly makes sense.
“But when you look at the overall… positivity rate right now in Washington, across the whole state,
it’s less than 5%,” Redfield said, “…which would be something that would, you know, make us very confident about the limited community spread.”
For counties above that rate, Redfield says the districts need a more stringent plan “because when you open these schools, the risk is not that these kids are going to transmit the virus when you find them in the school. The risk is to the community, and they will acquire the virus in the community and bring it into the school.”
Redfield understands the risks
Some parents and teachers have overstated the risk of sending kids back to school during the coronavirus pandemic. But Redfield understands their concerns.
“I lost one of my first children, not from COVID but just in life’s events and it was a big, big hit to my wife and I, to lose our first son,” Redfield said.
But he’d never ask parents to put kids in a dangerous position. According to the data, Redfield says the chance of mortality among children is nearly 1 in a million and that “severe illness is much less common in children.”
Parents, students weigh in
Parents and students across Washington are weighing in on plans to keep schools online.
While some are hesitant to send students back to the classroom, many are unhappy keeping their children where learning is not ideal. Many have chosen to home school rather than keep their kids in a digital learning environment.
Others are struggling with what to do with their kids during the day. When parents have to go into the office, what are they supposed to do with their children who are supposed to be learning online? And what if you’re a single parent? Some are choosing to leave their kids at home for stretches of time while others are struggling to find childcare. That’s pricey.
But Governor Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal are not offering much in the way of guidance, resources, or sympathy for struggling parents.
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