The Importance of Reopening Our Schools

The elected Politicians in VA 11 are playing political football with our children. They are shutting down schools for political reasons and it has nothing to do with COVID.

Let’s be truthful. There are a lot of politics behind our schools’ being shut down and the parents’ concern about their children’s safety in the wake of COVID-19. The importance of social, emotional, behavioral well-being and academic achievement are well-known. And of great significance, the lack of in-person education disproportionately harms low-income, those children with disabilities, and minority children. These students rely on school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs. And, if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms, and death rates among school-aged children are much lower than those of college-age students and adults.

Evidence to date shows that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children. Children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19. To put this in perspective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of July 17, 2020, the United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths. However, children with certain medical conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Add to this, International studies suggest COVID-19 transmission among children in schools is very low. That is, the rate of infection among younger school children, and from students to teachers, is quite low, if proper precautions are followed. A few reports show children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members, but a greater amount of data from both virus and antibody testing, suggest children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community, but that other factors may be in play. The available evidence points to the fact that in-person schooling is in the best interest of students when appropriate safety measures are implemented.

Parents who work and require their children to attend school are also hurt by school closures. These parents cannot afford private schools or tutors and see school closures as a desperate situation. Many jobs cannot be accomplished in a virtual environment, putting the parents and the children in a terrible dilemma: Do we go without buying food, or do I leave my child alone in the house while I work?

Schools are an important part of community life. They provide a safe, supportive learning environment, critical support services, employ teachers and staff, and importantly, allow parents, guardians, and caregivers to work. School closure disrupts all of this. Reopening schools — while taking precautions to protect students, teachers, staff, and families — invest in our children.

Maintaining a healthy school/work environment includes the following:

  • Reduce the risk of COVID-19 by having teachers, staff, and students stay home when sick or if they have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19. Monitor COVID-19 transmission rates in the immediate community and in the communities in which students, teachers, and staff live. Work collaboratively with local health officials to determine if temporary school closure is necessary.
  • Install engineering controls, including modifying work areas using physical barriers, incorporating required accessibility requirements, and improving ventilation, where feasible.
  • Establish administrative controls and safe work practices for all staff to follow, which include appropriate cleaning and disinfection practices and appropriate face-coverings policies.
  • Individuals who are sick should immediately go home or to a healthcare facility.

America is a free republic and we must continually work to keep our republic free. The majority of surveyed Fairfax County parents stated they wanted a reopening of our schools, even if it was only a partial reopening. But the elected officials in Fairfax County decided to keep them closed. I firmly stand with the parents and want schools reopened. Especially since last year’s closure was a complete disaster for all involved. So, let’s not do the same thing this year and expect a better result.