Opinions are mixed on the idea of schools opening in some parts of the country, and one RN and advocate for health freedom suggests we simply look at the data instead of focusing on fear.
Cases have reportedly been increasing in recent weeks for states large and small, which is why critics of the "reopen schools" movement say now is not the time to have a lot of people of various ages in tight spaces where the ability to socially distance is not practical.
In her op-ed, "Please listen to teachers: It's not safe to go back to school yet,” Danielle Arnold-Schwartz, a teacher of elementary gifted students in Pennsylvania, writes that people should heed the opinions of medical experts:
When the director of the WHO Center on Public Health and Human Rights, who happens to also be a chaired professor of global health law at Georgetown Law, tells us that summer of 2022 is his best estimate of when our lives may resemble anything considered normal, we should listen to him.
Meanwhile, others would rather wait until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed. But Twila Brase, RN and president/co-founder of Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, says the lack of a vaccine should not keep schools from opening.
"It's interesting that there seems to be so many claims that we're going to have a vaccine in short order, when that is not the history of vaccines," Brase notes. "In fact, if you listen to the experts, they'll tell you that it might take 12 or 24 months, or even four years."
Even if a vaccine is concocted, Brase says nobody knows how effective it will be.
"It might even backfire, making the virus more virulent in the bodies of those who have had the vaccine," she continues. "Anybody who is using a vaccine as a reason to keep the schools from opening has not looked at the realities of vaccine development."
As for the crowded classrooms, Brase suggests looking at how the virus has affected children.
"Between February 1st and July 8th, only 14 children have died who are between the ages of 5 and 14," she reports. "Children are not a typical target of COVID-19."
Brase also points out that the European countries that have opened their schools have not seen spikes in illness with the children.
"As a matter of fact, most of them have completely abandoned all idea of social distancing," she relays.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes similar comments on a webpage devoted to the issue of whether schools should reopen:
The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission, and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus.
As for disabled students or the children who need to be fed, Brase has some suggestions.
"If schools are concerned about children who have to be fed, as in disabled children, they could always make limits pertaining to that, or they could provide them personal protective equipment for those reasons," she poses. "They might want to have a conversation with parents. But the majority of the children in schools feed themselves and can move around by themselves, and that would not be a problem."
And regarding the adults who work in the schools teaching and taking care of the children, data shows their interaction with the young students would not put them at much of a risk.
"According to the information that I have, children very infrequently transmit the virus to each other or to adults," says Brase. "Therefore, it's not like teachers even have to be that concerned. And they ... can maintain their own social distance, but children are not known to be spreaders of the disease, and they're not known to get the disease like adults."
Some teachers do not see it that way. A Florida teachers union, for example, recently filed suit against the state's plans to reopen schools.
"Gov. DeSantis (R) needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one," Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram said in a statement shared by NBC News. "The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control."
"There is just a great fomenting of fear that continues in this country," Twila Brase responds. "I feel like people need to be told the statistics, the real statistics that matter, which is about how many people are dying and how many people are hospitalized," Brase adds. "The expectation is that cases will go up, but the wonderful news, the good news is that in most states, the hospitalizations and the deaths are going down, even as the cases go up."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert with as many fans as critics, recently told PBS NewsHour that schools and communities must assess the local threat of virus infections and develop plans that account for how to safely educate children, saying, "You should try to the best of your ability with all considerations for the safety and welfare of the teachers, we should try to get our children back to school as best as we possibly can."
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