Learning curve: Schools don’t need to close to contain COVID |

From the New York Daily News:

As the seemingly (but not certain) less severe omicron variant hits delta and political leaders across America try to avoid further hospitalizations and deaths, a sound we don’t hear is a clamor for that schools close and make way for distance learning after the Christmas holidays.

Hopefully we’ve learned our lesson – President Biden reiterated this week: The benefits of in-person learning far outweigh the risks. Schools are not hotbeds of viral spread, and even when they can play a role, if adults are careful and vaccinated, classrooms can open without creating a public health problem.

The 2019-2020 school year was abruptly ended in the spring of 2020 without a well-thought-out back-up plan for home schooling. Last fall, New York City, the nation’s largest public school system, put children back on hybrid schedules while letting families choose to be totally isolated, an option chosen by the majority.

While this was bolder and better than what many other districts attempted, it was insufficient. Every available piece of evidence suggests that students, and especially those most in need of academic help, fell behind. And schools are not just places of academic growth; they allow children to develop socially, athletically and in many other ways. Solitary confinement has proven to be a mental punishment for young people. Meanwhile, the COVID weekly hospitalization rate for school-aged children is only 1 in 100,000.

So it was a hell of a good thing when Mayor Bill de Blasio asked teachers to get vaccinated and brought back almost all the children this fall (except those with severe medical vulnerabilities), while also reminding the rules. rigid lines triggering the closure of classrooms and buildings.

Unless something drastically changes in terms of the pandemic, the mayor, governor and others across America shouldn’t seriously consider returning to distance learning. To provide a final layer of protection, add the COVID vaccination to the long list of vaccines already required for children to return to school, as Governor Kathy Hochul has said she wants to do before next fall. What sense does it make to require vaccination against extinct epidemics but not against current pandemics?


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Norma A. Roth