A group of researchers — actual scientists — are saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) misinterpreted their work and issued “harmful” guidance keeping school closed that their research never suggested was necessary.
In an op-ed published at USA Today, the researchers, Dr. Tara Henderson and Dr. Daniel Johnson of the University of Chicago, Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California-San Francisco and Dr. Tracy Tracy Beth Hoeg of the University of California-Davis, wrote that their data says schools “can remain fully open safely” and that the CDC got it wrong when they issued strict school lockdown guidelines suggesting it said otherwise.
We must act for children, and we can do this while keeping staff and teachers safe. This can be accomplished with appropriate distancing (3-6 feet for students in schools), masking, hygiene, cohorting and increasing ventilation when possible — all of which can be achieved readily and immediately in classrooms and schools. Teachers and staff will have increased safety when vaccinated, and the Biden administration has prioritized this group.
The best way to overcome fear is to follow the science, and the science shows we can safely open our schools now for full-time (nonhybrid) learning and keep them open.
That clear-cut statement follows a four-part assessment of the risks of COVID transmission in schools, how susceptible children are, and what guidelines should be followed as schools engage in in-person instruction. And yes — they say three feet of distance is perfectly acceptable rather than the near-universal agreement that six feet is the safest for social distance.
However, the CDC seems to have misunderstood or ignored their findings.
The researchers say the CDC, which on its website cites one of their studies showing minimal transmission in Wisconsin schools with high community positivity rates, ignored their research, as well as findings from the broader scientific community that have highlighted the low risks associated with Covid-19 for children and the lack of science mandating 6-feet of distance between children wearing masks.
It should be noted that a study published this week examining partial reopening of schools in New York City found found that students were not at greater risk for COVID exposure. “Though the transmission rate was higher among teachers and staff, just 191 of the 36,000 students and staffers in schools quarantined after a school virus exposure tested positive for the virus (a 0.5% transmission rate).”
The CDC, thus far, has not responded to the allegations but perhaps the most response they can give is to issue guidance that finally acknowledges what many have known for some time: the kids should be in school.