The coronavirus pandemic has spread like wildfire across the United States, causing surges in cases by late July. With the continued spread of the disease, much talk regarding reopening society has occurred. Principally, many are concerned about the reopening of schools. Initially it appeared as though many schools would opt for online instruction. However, the CDC recently released its findings which encourage the opposite; they firmly recommend reopening schools.
Though this decision may come as a surprise, the CDC cites many scientific studies as a justification for their conclusion. Their studies “suggest that COVID-19 transmission among children in schools may be low. International studies that have assessed how readily COVID-19 spreads in schools also reveal low rates of transmission when community transmission is low.” Moreover, the concern for children’s safety is low as “children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults”.
But even the CDC recognizes that the school environment students return to will be vastly different. They recommend the implementation of safety measures including but not limited to the use of face masks, social distancing, and use of cohorts to limit the interactions students have. Moreover, the CDC does not recommend universal testing for students, but does encourage close monitoring of the symptoms and stresses the importance of not allowing sick children to attend school. These changes will help to mitigate the spread of the virus and help to protect both students and educators from contracting the illness.
When it comes to assessing the health risks encountered by children, there appears to be limited evidence that reopening schools endangers them. That said, the CDC has come under fire for neglecting to consider the risks this decision poses for educators, many of which are in the age group most vulnerable to the virus. The CDC hopes that if the aforementioned safety practices are implemented, educators will be safe. Additionally, the CDC does not recommend reopening schools in areas with a high transmission rate of COVID-19, thus demonstrating that they are closely monitoring the situation.
Nonetheless, the pressure from the CDC and White House reinforce the importance of reopening schools. In a statement on the matter President Trump expressed that “reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring parents can go to work and provide for their families.” This sentiment reflects the urge to return society to normalcy and encourage the economic reopening of the United States.