Parents across the country continue to wonder whether it’s safe to send their children back to school for in-class learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. As research began to trickle in, with some studies finding infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, and others suggesting older children and teenagers can spread the virus even if they don’t display symptoms—it’s easy to see why families are still nervous about this year’s fall semester.
Yet, Dr. Scott Atlas, the new White House adviser and Coronavirus Task Force member, claims schools are low-risk environments and keeping schools closed is incredibly harmful to children and their development.
“The harms from not opening schools to children are enormous… People’s reading levels have dropped by 30% in the short time they were using distance learning, math levels dropped by 50%. Distance learning is not as good,” Atlas told Fox News.
Atlas added that children’s safety is on the line as well. According to federal data, 21% of the 4.3 million referrals made in 2018 were from school educators. Atlas said estimates have shown that roughly 213,000 cases of child abuse may not have been reported in the first two months of the lockdown in Florida.
According to data from the National Education Association [NEA], 4,953 COVID-19 cases have been reported at schools and campuses between March 16 and September 1, with 37 deaths. These numbers include both students and teachers that have been effected within schools.
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began tracking cases, the number of deaths of children between the ages of five and 17 is 53 or .1% and the number of deaths of newborns to age 4 is 31, also .1%.
“Anyone who’s been in practice, who’s seen patients, has been in medical centers, should have the perspective that the exceptions, although they are tragic, they do not stop the overwhelming evidence,” Atlas said. “The CDC says that the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 to children are less than any of the past five seasons of influenza for children.”
The Hoover Institution senior fellow believes some Americans are ‘uniquely panicking over opening our schools’ and said although the Trump administration supports any options that parents might want or that schools might want with distance education, ‘we’re saying the goals should be in-person schools.’
“We cannot be sitting here sacrificing our children’s futures out of fear for ourselves. That’s not appropriate. That’s not acceptable,” Atlas said.