School Openings Have, Uh, Not Been Going Very Well
Last week, several schools across the country opened and welcomed children back to class. That may not last too long, as we already have a bunch of headlines about how many of those children now have COVID-19.
On the first day of school at Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana, one student tested positive and was sent home. Shaker High School in Latham, New York, had to close after an employee tested positive. As one Atlanta-area school got ready to open, a whole bunch of football players tested positive. Given that 260 employees in the Gwinnett County school system have either currently tested positive or interacted with someone who did, opening was going to be difficult there to begin with. One Indianapolis school, which opened on Monday, has already had three positive cases. An employee at Collierville High School in the Memphis suburbs also tested positive, as did three football players. Not a high school, but a Georgia sleepaway camp also suffered a pretty huge outbreak last month.
Call me crazy, but it does not seem like this has been going well. It seems like an especially bad idea to go back to school in a state that is on a coronavirus upswing, and an even worse idea to play football. Like, at all, for any reason, as football is a game where you have to touch other people, tackle other people, and which involves a ball that other people have also touched with their possible corona-hands.
This all flies in the face of a lot of initial assumptions about the virus. While older adults are more likely to die of COVID-19 than younger adults and children, children just may be super-spreaders. Probably because they look so innocent but are also often sticky.
Via Washington Post:
A new report suggests that children of all ages are susceptible to coronavirus infection and may also spread it to others — a finding likely to intensify an already fraught discussion about the risks of sending children back to school this fall.
The analysis, released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, details an outbreak at a sleep-away camp in Georgia last month in which 260 children and staffers — more than three-quarters of the 344 tested — contracted the virus less than a week after spending time together in close quarters. The children had a median age of 12. The camp had required all 597 campers and staff members to provide documentation that they had tested negative for the virus before coming. Staff were required to wear masks, but children were not.
That seems bad!
Even if children are not likely to die from the virus, they can still pass it on to others who might be more likely to die, a fact Donald Trump seems to have overlooked while making statements during a press briefing last Thursday:
My administration is also asking Democrats to work with us to pass $105 billion to help schools safely reopen. Children are not [sic] at the lowest risk. If you look at what's going on: the younger, the better. Amazing — the immune system. For children, the lower they are in age, the lower the risk, in terms of the age group itself.
"The younger, the better." Unfortunately, seems more like it's the younger, the more likely to be living with adults to whom they could pass on the virus. Unless they are The Boxcar Children, a situation which might present its own issues with regards to virus transmission. Additionally, it's not the chicken pox. So far, science isn't entirely sure you can't get COVID-19 more than once, and the antibodies from having it one time around may only last for a few months.
Obviously we're going to have to figure something out. Parents need to be able to work and kids need to learn. But if this is what's going on in just the first week of a few schools opening, we may be headed towards disaster.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse