Toward the end of June, a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) prioritized the physical presence of students in brick-and-mortar schools. After the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the School Superintendents Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association had weighed in, the AAP issued a revised statement clarifying that decision-making must be guided by science, community circumstances, and evidence provided by public health agencies, but not by political considerations.
Among the public, there is in some quarters a very strong feeling that the safety of educators and school personnel is not being taken into account, and neither, for that matter, is the safety of America’s children. The grimmest moralists’ interpretation is that America’s eagerness to reopen bars, beaches and amusement parks ruined our chances to reopen schools. As Paul Krugman puts it, in his piece for The New York Times, “America Drank Away Its Children’s Future.” He writes,
Other countries stuck with their lockdowns long enough to reduce infections to rates much lower than those prevailing here; Covid-19 death rates per capita in the European Union are only a 10th those in the United States — and falling — while ours are rising fast. As a result, they’re in a position to reopen schools fairly safely. So we’re now facing a terrible, unnecessary dilemma. If we reopen in-person education, we risk feeding an out-of-control pandemic. If we don’t, we impair the development of millions of American students, inflicting long-term damage on their lives and careers.
The graphic on this page was created by Covid19 Recovery Consulting, self-described as a group of experts in medicine, public health, and infection prevention, experienced in “helping private businesses safely reopen and intelligently resume operations after COVID-19 closures and restrictions.” In other words, a business that exists to be hired by other businesses.
Showing their Risk Index here does not imply endorsement of every tenet. However, the graphic is offered for free (download the PDF file) and should prove a useful starting point for parents, students, school employees, and any interest group or institution that needs to influence, implement, justify, or enforce policy.
Rose Levine, a 5th grade teacher in Massachusetts, suggests that maybe schools should not be held responsible for the entire upbringing and formation of young citizens. She widens to the bigger picture, the one in which all citizens should take stock of our preconceptions and realize that other segments of society could use some remodeling and rehabilitation too. She writes,
Many Americans are finally recognizing for the first time that our schools have been serving less as educational institutions and more as life rafts. Our schools and teachers have, for decades, picked up the slack as our nation has systematically defunded and disenfranchised all the other components of a caring community. We have provided schooling, yes, but also nutrition, health care, counseling, social work, and — most critically — free childcare that allows the nation to abdicate all of its responsibilities to working families.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Doctors, teachers reject Trump’s pressure to reopen U.S. schools,” Reuters.com, 07/10/20
Source: “America Drank Away Its Children’s Future,” NYTimes.com, 07/13/20
Source: “The Case Against Reopening Schools,” UseJournal.com, 07/14/20
Image by Covid19 Recovery Consulting