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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The distorted debate about reopening schools - The Washington Post

The distorted debate about reopening schools - The Washington Post
The deeply distorted debate about reopening schools

For nearly a year the Trump administration was accused of ignoring science by trying to bully schools into reopening during the coronavirus pandemic without requiring that proper safety steps being taken. Now the Biden administration, less than a month in office, is being accused of ignoring science — largely for doing the opposite.

A popular construct of the criticism of the Biden administration goes like this: Frustrated parents everywhere want their kids back in schools right now, but fearful (and sometimes lazy) teachers don’t want to go. Their unions are nothing but obstructionist. Researchers say there is little evidence that schools contribute to increased community transmission of the coronavirus. President Biden, a friend of labor, is siding with the unions by supporting the idea of instituting safety precautions before reopening.

There is a lot that is distorted with that thinking, which suggests that critics believe that there is a firm consensus on which safety measures are necessary and that all schools will or are implementing them.

Actually, there is a continued lack of governmental clarity over exactly what proper safety measures are necessary — and plenty of evidence that many school districts already open are not coming close to implementing some of the key measures. Researchers reporting on transmission in schools qualify their results by saying that safety measures matter, a point that sometimes gets left out of the reopening debate or gets added as an aside.

Encapsulating some of the pointed discussion was a conversation on Sunday between Jake Tapper, host of MSNBC’s “State of the Union” and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky. Tapper asked Walensky why more schools weren’t open when she and infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci and other experts have been saying for months that schools should open as long as there are certain safety measures in place.

“There are a lot of people out there watching who think, like, ‘I thought the science said we should open the schools as long as we are taking the safety steps,'" Tapper said. “We’re taking the safety steps, and we’re not opening the schools.” CONTINUE READING: The distorted debate about reopening schools - The Washington Post