White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany argued that “science should not stand in the way” of full school reopening. I’m certain I’m not the first person to say it but — science doesn’t care about politics or the president’s agenda.
Science isn’t persuaded by ideology — it’s just a reflection of the known facts.
So what does the science say about reopening?
The National Academies of Science issued a report on reopening of K-12 schools. In the report, the NAS says that schools should prioritize reopening, but that schools must also balance health and community needs when making the decision. Specifically on the issue of reopening, the report says:
“When making the decision to reopen, education leaders should develop decision-making coalitions to allow for input from representatives of school staff, families, local health officials, and other community interests. These coalitions should decide educational priorities for reopening schools; be explicit about financial, staffing, and facility constraints; and establish an ongoing plan for communicating about school decisions and resources. In developing reopening plans, districts should also take existing educational disparities into account, such as school facilities, staffing, and overcrowding, as well as disparities among students and families. Schools should partner closely with public health officials to assess school facilities for minimum health standards and consult on school plans for COVID-19 mitigation.”
Science says that reopening safely will be costly — around $1.8 million for a school district with eight schools and 3,200 students.
Science also says more research must be done to fully understand the impact of school opening. To quote the report summary:
“The report recommends research be conducted immediately to investigate the link between children and the transmission of COVID-19, the role of reopening schools in community spread, airborne transmission of the virus, and the effectiveness of various virus mitigation strategies. The evidence needed to make informed decisions about school reopening and safe operation is lacking in many areas, and further research is required.”
The American people deserve better than an administration that chooses to use our children’s safety as a reelection strategy, and we deserve an administration that follows science not only when it serves their narrow purposes.
American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology