After his White House declaration yesterday that schools must reopen in the fall, regardless of whatever local coronavirus outbreaks may be going on, Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to yell that schools have to open, they just have to, or he will be quite cross indeed. Except he doesn't want schools to have to follow health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because what does the CDC know about controlling and preventing disease?


Before we get to the Trumpblurts, let's just real quick put those suckers in a Truth Sandwich: As we noted earlier, child development experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics say children should definitely attend school in person, because it's good for their growing minds and psyches and social skills. BUT the whole point is that the schools need to be safe for the kids' return, and there's a hell of a lot of infrastructure and planning needed to make sure the kids and their teachers don't just become disease vectors. It's way more complex than letting bars reopen, and look at what a clustercuss THAT turned out to be. Schools in several European countries have reopened successfully, but that's because the reopenings were done cautiously, and more importantly, because the larger communities already had the virus under control.

With those huge public health caveats in mind, let's take a look at Trump's brilliant thoughts, which ignore everything we just reminded you of, which is why we reminded you of it.


Bad Donald! BAD! No sammich for you! Do you know why the European schools have opened up with virtually no problems? It is because they literally followed their own countries' versions of the CDC guidelines, not one of which said "Just open the schools, no big deal." Take Denmark, for instance, since it's right there in Trump's tweet. The Wall Street Journal reports Denmark "maintains a sophisticated monitoring system to detect any increase in infection and identify its source," and that the country has "imposed a number of precautions on teaching establishments, from maintaining air circulation to rules on distancing and hygiene." (If you're paywalled, here's a similar US News story on Denmark's extensive school safety efforts. Classes in a soccer stadium, anyone?)

Gosh, that sounds a heck of a lot like the CDC guidelines Trump says we shouldn't bother with. While the CDC acknowledges that the lowest-risk option is virtual schooling with no contact, its suggestions for limiting contact in in-person classes are hardly onerous:

Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures, or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).

Yeah, that's gonna be pricier, especially in terms of staffing, than just throwing open the doors and hoping for the best, but it's what those countries that have opened are doing. Israel, on the other hand, might be a case study for what happens if you take the Trump approach. Israeli schools reopened with little social distancing, and yes, there have been outbreaks that led to school closures and mandatory isolation of students exposed to infected classmates or teachers.

Not that Trump has any kind of "plan" in mind at all, because after all, August is like thirty years from now, as he explained in an interview Tuesday:

Well, we have a long time to think about the school stuff. Because, you know. But we want to have the schools open. [...] I would say that when we talk about the fall, that seems like a long time. It's a long time.

Spoken like a man whose sister did all his homework for him.

Trump's suggestion that he'll tell the CDC to loosen their guidelines for school reopenings, well it sure sounds like one of those "you'll see in a couple weeks, a very short period of time" things. We'd like to believe maybe even Trump's CDC would refuse to compromise on public health, but who the hell knows? Might be a good time for school administrators to download the agency's current guidelines and checklist now, just to be safe.

As for the idea that Trump will cut funding for states that put children's health above making life seem normal for a while until the teachers start keeling over, it's conceivable Trump could try to block CARES Act funding for states that don't open schools toot sweet, but that would almost certainly result in lawsuits, not to mention terrible publicity for Trump. In June, a couple of House Republicans introduced a bill that would strip federal school funding from schools that don't reopen, but that went nowhere fast, because Nancy Pelosi wants money to make reopening safely possible, not stupid threats.

And while Trump continues to lie, we'll just close with this, for folks who think young children are somehow exempt from the virus: CNN reported earlier this week that Texas is struggling with outbreaks in daycare centers.

At least 1,335 people have tested positive from child care facilities in Texas, the state's Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday, citing figures from Friday.

Of those infected, 894 were staff members and 441 were children. The cases came from 883 child care facilities that are open in the state, DHHS said.

The new cases mark a significant increase from June 15, when there were 210 reported cases from 177 facilities -- including 141 staff members and 69 children.

No big. Just reopen and your kids will be fine, as will their grandparents. No less an authority than the President of the National Death Cult says so.

[CNN / Atlantic / WSJ / US News / US News / CNN]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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