A couple of days after New York City Gov. Andrew Cuomo surprised everyone by once again closing schools and sending kids back home in the midst of the pandemic, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that such closings fly in the face of data, studies, and the best available information on the coronavirus and how it spreads.
“Today, there’s extensive data that we have—we’ve gathered over the last two to three months—that confirm that K-12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning and they can do it safely and they can do it responsibly,” Redfield said. “The infections that we’ve identified in schools when they’ve been evaluated were not acquired in schools. They were actually acquired in the community and in the household.
“Today, as Dr. Birx said, our big threat for transmission is not the public square, it’s small family gatherings, family gatherings where people become more comfortable, they remove their face-mask when they get together and it’s this silent epidemic that begins to transmit,” Redfield continued. “But it’s not interschool transmission.”
Redfield said that kids are probably safer in school than they will be when they go home to their families.
“The truth is, for kids K-12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school,” he said. “And it’s really important that following the data, making sure we don’t make emotional decisions about what to close and what not to close, and I’m here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K-12 schools—as well as institutes of higher learning—really are not where we’re having our challenges. It would be counterproductive from my point of view, from a public health point of view, just in containing the epidemic, if there was an emotional response, to say, ‘Let’s close the schools.’”
CNBC reports that not everyone was pleased with the decision being made in New York:
New York City public schools, the nation’s largest education system, switched to fully remote learning on Thursday after the percentage of positive coronavirus tests across the city hit 3% — a metric Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio had indicated would, at least temporarily, put an end to in-person classes. However, critics lamented that fitness centers and indoor dining at restaurants were still allowed while school buildings had to shutter.
They spoke to former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who questioned the decision as well.
“We should be trying to curtail whatever activities we know are sources of community spread long before we close schools,” said Gottlieb. “So, some of these jurisdictions, including New York City, have it backwards where they close the schools and leave other things open where the spread is occurring.”
New York City? Backwards? Under the serious and wise leadership of Cuomo and de Blasio?
Surely you jest.