As we debate whether or not to send kids back to school, the CDC has updated its advice (reportedly, it was updated for them) in The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall.
Because the source material may change or disappear, I have captured the two paragraphs I discuss in this essay and the footnote below.
At this point, while schools are closed, the CDC reports that in the US, under 7% of COVID cases and under 0.1% of COVID related deaths are in children and adolescents under 18 years old. As of today, that’s over three hundred thousand cases and 154 deaths.
They follow this by noting that flu-related deaths in children range from 37 to 187 deaths.
So while our kids are not in school, we are seeing the number of child deaths from COVID in the past six months at the top end of what we expect in a given year from the flu.
The attempt is to make us feel that this is a normal and acceptable number - but we haven’t seen what this number will be once schools re-open in the fall.
Note also that there are tests, vaccines, and treatments for the flu and that between 4 and 20 deaths a year are attributable to those not vaccinated.
We currently have no way to vaccinate children or adults and the number of tests available is severely limited.
Children die at a much lower rate than adults, but studies are showing (and we’ll certainly learn more over time), that people who suffer the most from COVID but recover have damage to their lungs and heart. We obviously don’t know the long term effect on children yet but the CDC reports that some children will have Multi Inflamatory Syndrome as a result of COVID. They report that most (70%) have gotten better with medical care.
From that CDC report:
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care.
There are many examples in “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall” of the benefits to a child of being in school (though the administrations parallel efforts to underfund schools makes me question whether they believe these arguments). It would be great to get kids back in schools. If it were safe.
Let’s move on to the next paragraph of the CDC statement on sending your kids back to school.
“Scientific studies suggest that COVID-19 transmission among children in schools may be low.”
The emphasis is mine, but I can’t imagine sending my child to school with words like “suggest” and “may” all used to modify a non-specific measurement such as “low”.
The people who have embraced statements such as this as justification for sending their kids back to school are often those who do not vaccinate their children and who remind me that evolution is “just a theory”.
It’s the next sentence that, in my opinion, is not emphasized enough:
“International studies that have assessed how readily COVID-19 spreads in schools also reveal low rates of transmission when community transmission is low.”
Again the emphasis is mine. There is low transmission in schools when community transmission is low.
But community transmission isn’t low in Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas.
Sometime, no matter what we do to keep them safe and healthy, a child dies.
That is sad and tragic.
As many of you know - I don’t say any of that casually.
Imagine the additional pain if you are left with wondering if it’s because you made the decision to send them to school.
I know some will never ask that question. They will blame Obama, or Hillary, or Nancy Pelosi somehow.
Doctors and scientists tell us that with a lockdown and masks, we could eliminate most of this in four to six weeks.
Then we will have met the condition that community transmission is low. Then it will be safer to send our kids back to schools.
I listened to an expert recommend this yesterday on a national program. A young person called in to say that they were done with complying and that they would rather risk going to jail than wearing a mask and staying at home if we are asked to do so.
And that’s why we will end up re-opening schools and putting children at risk.
I’ve lost a child.
It’s not a statistic.
It’s not a theoretical.
It’s a hole that will never be filled.
How many holes are we willing to dig because “studies suggest that COVID-19 transmission among children in schools may be low.”
Here is the material captured from The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall on July 31, 2020.
The best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children. Children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults. To put this in perspective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of July 17, 2020, the United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths. Although relatively rare, flu-related deaths in children occur every year. From 2004-2005 to 2018-2019, flu-related deaths in children reported to CDC during regular flu seasons ranged from 37 to 187 deaths. During the H1N1pandemic (April 15, 2009 to October 2, 2010), 358 pediatric deaths were reported to CDC. So far in this pandemic, deaths of children are less than in each of the last five flu seasons, with only 64.† Additionally, some children with certain underlying medical conditions, however, are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.*
Scientific 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. Based on current data, the rate of infection among younger school children, and from students to teachers, has been low, especially if proper precautions are followed. There have also been few reports of children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members.,, This is consistent with data from both virus and antibody testing, suggesting that children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community.,, No studies are conclusive, but the available evidence provides reason to believe that in-person schooling is in the best interest of students, particularly in the context of appropriate mitigation measures similar to those implemented at essential workplaces.
*Some children have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) after exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). (https://www.cdc.gov/mis-c/cases/index.html) In one targeted surveillance study for MIS-C associated with SARS-CoV-2, however, the majority of children who were hospitalized with COVID-related MIS-C (70 percent) had recovered by the end date of the study period. (Feldstein LR et al.. Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in US Children and Adolescents. N Engl J Med. 2020;10.1056/NEJMoa2021680)
You may want to also read Another law of large numbers