The president and first lady held a summit to urge schools across the nation to reopen this fall. Mr. and Mrs. Trump were joined by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Second Lady and educator Karen Pence, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, among others. President of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) Dr. Sally Goza was also present at the summit, stating, “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”
With learning for 1.5 billion children disrupted during COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, this joint message is a powerful encouragement to all 50 states to reverse the educational slide our children have suffered and attempt to make up for ground lost during quarantines. The president reported that there has been a tenfold reduction in mortality from COVID-19 since the peak of the crisis, said his administration would put “very much pressure” on governors to open up, and went on to insist that “we want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it. The dads want it. The kids want it. It’s time to do it.”
President Trump’s efforts come at a crucial inflection point as states will be making determinations about the coming school year in the next few weeks. As a general rule, blue states have demonstrated greater circumspection around efforts to open their economies, which suggests many of them will apply this abundance of caution to reopening their schools. And with the reflexive gainsaying on the left of anything coming from Trump, the mere fact that he’s pushing schools to reopen may be enough to prompt many blue states to remain closed – an irrational and unfortunate by-product of the political zeitgeist.
Blocking the Way
The president pledged over $13 billion to the cause of the CARES (Corona Aid Relief and Economic Security) Act that he signed into law on March 27 with overwhelming bipartisan support. This funding will hopefully be used wisely by the states to make possible a safe return of all school children to the classroom. There are two major roadblocks to this desired outcome, however. One is that some states have a well-established history of misappropriating federal funding, and the other is the decidedly confounding x-factor of the teachers’ unions.
Depending on how teachers’ unions line up – and they routinely and with little digression align lockstep with the interests of the Democratic Party – reopening schools in the same way they existed before remote learning constitutes wishful thinking. Unions are by the very dictates of their charters concerned primarily with their members. Teachers’ unions are grappling with a moment without precedent like the rest of us and perhaps understandably prioritize teachers’ concerns above those of the children and families they serve. But this only makes it less likely they will opt to reopen schools without significant restrictions and with the lion’s share of remote learning as they seek to protect their membership from a virus that has a 99.74% recovery rate, according to the CDC.
Harmful impacts for the children of America are becoming more evident every day. As the AAP states, long periods away from school proper “interrupts support services for children and often results in social isolation.” The AAP goes on to caution that this “places children and adolescents at considerable risk.” One of the risks left unmentioned is that of suicide, which was already on the rise in all groups during lockdowns in the Age of COVID.
These many impacts are far more significant for students with special needs who already struggle to close the achievement gap with their peers. Students with autism, learning disabilities, attentional deficits, and other special education eligibilities who desperately need services such as language and speech, occupational therapy, behavior modification, and counseling are even more profoundly disadvantaged than their general education peers. This is something state and union leaders alike would do well to remember as they make their fateful decisions for the fall.
Feckless Fauci – the Boomerang Kid, who doubles back on every position he has held during the pandemic – has done so again concerning schools reopening. A month ago, Anthony Fauci stated that “to make an extrapolation that you shouldn’t open schools, I think is a bit of a reach.” A big fan of hedging his bets, however, the top immunologist also said at the time, “I think we need to discuss the pros and cons of bringing kids back to school in September.”
After the president’s proposal to reopen schools, however, Fauci somberly intoned that it’s “a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.” “There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and very bad about this virus,” he added. Apparently, a child mortality rate too low to be calculated by the CDC and ten weeks of declining mortality for a virus that already kills just one-quarter of 1% of those infected are not the “very dangerous” things to which Fauci is alluding. That he has been an abject and addled, if affable, non-asset in the fight against COVID-19 is beyond questioning. America deserved better.
Brave New World for US Kids
With a choreographed precision worthy of the Ice Capades, the doom and gloom media respond to every Trump initiative with an insistence on its antonym. The Fourth Estate and the president’s political enemies are intent on keeping us in masks, in our homes, and in fear until Bill Gates Saves Earth sometime later this year with potentially the deadliest vaccine ever formulated. That it be subject to zero animal trials, few safety trials, and that it’s being conjured virtually from thin air in months when no Coronavirus vaccine has been able to be developed in 20 years are facts that should alarm every American. And the idea that no child will be able to attend school anywhere in the world without submitting to this deadly jab will be proof positive of our Brave New World.
While other nations send their kids back to school, like Germany, which did so in May without issue, the United States of America weighs its own socio-political and media burdens – largely divorced from sense, reason, or science. As Secretary DeVos stated, “It’s clear that our nation’s schools must fully reopen and fully operate this school year. Anything short of that robs students, not to mention taxpayers, of their future.”
That seems entirely and intuitively correct. Let us hope that cooler heads prevail in this one instance – for the sake of our children and their futures.
Read more from Pennel Bird.