Intelligent Design

Research Overwhelmingly Supports Reopening Schools

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A recent report from The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity is must reading for educators.  The report concludes that any fair assessment of the balance of risks overwhelmingly supports a return to in-person leaning this fall.  I encourage you to click on the link and read the whole report, but here are some of the key findings:

  1. School aged children are at much greater risk from flu than COVID-19.

“The good news is that children are at very low risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. Indeed, children aged 5–14 are seven times more likely to die of influenza than of COVID-19. Children aged 1–4 are 20 times more likely to die of influenza. Overall, Americans under the age of 25 represent 0.15 percent of all COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S.”

This conclusion is supported by data in Colorado.  According to Department of Public Health and Environment data, there have been only 3 deaths among the 1.4 million people under age 20 in Colorado.

  1. Child-to-adult transmission risk is low

“There also appears to be very low risk of transmission of COVID-19 from children to adults. As we detail below, population-wide studies in Europe have found little to no evidence of children-to-adult transmission; indeed, children have generally received the virus from adults.”

I would add that a study released just a few days ago provides additional support to this conclusion.  See German study finds no evidence coronavirus spreads in schools:

Prof Reinhard Berner, the head of pediatric medicine at Dresden University Hospital and leader of the study, said the results suggested the virus does not spread easily in schools.  “It is rather the opposite,” Prof Berner told a press conference. “Children act more as a brake on infection. Not every infection that reaches them is passed on.”

  1. While risks are low, harms are high

Health Risks

“While the risks of COVID-19 in children are low and manageable, the harms of prolonged school closures are high.”  The report quotes the following from a release from the American Academy of Pediatric:

“The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.”

Achievement Gap Risks

“Children from lower-income families have fewer opportunities to learn outside of school. Researchers have found that differences in outside of school learning opportunities contribute to the academic achievement gap between rich and poor children. The current situation is likely exacerbating this opportunity gap, particularly since poor children are less likely to have internet access at home.”

The effect of school closures on the educational opportunity of inner city children is especially high.  A recent report from the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education looked at how 477 school districts nationwide have responded to the crisis.  The report found distance learning attendance was abysmal in the inner city. During the first two weeks of the shutdown, some 15,000 Los Angeles students failed to show up for classes or do any schoolwork at all.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that 10 weeks in, “the Philadelphia School District registers just 61% of students attending school on an average day.” The same week the Boston Globe reported that only “half of students are logging into online class or submitting assignments online on a typical day.”

Nutrition Risks

“Widespread school closures have other negative consequences for the nation’s children, and particularly those from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. For example, American schools provide food to more than half of the school aged population. Nearly 30 million children receive free or reduced-price lunch through the National School Lunch Program. While most children will not go hungry without free or subsidized meals, children from the poorest families could be affected by the lack of regular access to these services. Schools and child care centers also play a critical role in state child welfare systems and supporting children’s health.”

  1. Other nations have reopened successfully

“But the likelihood that the pandemic will persist into — and perhaps well beyond — the 2020–21 school year requires policymakers to plan for the reopening of the nation’s schools. This is far from an outlandish idea. In May, several advanced nations reopened their schools with few problems, including Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.”

53 Replies to “Research Overwhelmingly Supports Reopening Schools

  1. 1
    Mac McTavish says:

    While I generally support targeted shutdowns, social distancing and wearing masks (With some exceptions) I think that the damage to children by not returning to school far outweighs the risk of returning.

    There obviously have to be enhanced basic hygiene for both the kids and teachers, and enhanced cleaning for the schools. The only concern I see is for kids who are frequently in contact with seniors with health issues (eg grandparents). But those problems aren’t insurmountable.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    Ask, who benefits from continued, agit prop fed chaos, then ask what ideologies are education authorities and related policymakers are likely to identify with.

  3. 3
    News says:

    In my part of Canada, we opened the schools in June, with social distancing. No active COVID-19 cases in the region.

    If there is a continued concern about children infecting seniors, it is a manageable risk. Many children are rarely in touch with seniors, for a variety of reasons. For the ones who are, plans can be made. By now, we are all familiar with the risks and strategies, and life must go on.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    My sister-in-law says Australia has their schools open

  5. 5
    David P says:

    It made a good case that children are at low risk but one article is hardly “overwhelming”. I think children spending more time at home is a win-win situation, but if people want to reopen I’m not going to stop anyone.
    At least be honest about sending kids back though. Conservatives don’t care about children, they care about the economy. Trump’s budget manager once said feeding hungry kids hasn’t been proven to help their performance.

    Also, “Other nations have reopened successfully”. Yes since their numbers are dropping. Our numbers are increasing. If you’re going to cite other nations success as a reason to reopen, I hope you also support the reasons for their success. Since they wear masks, test, and isolate infected people.

  6. 6
    Barry Arrington says:

    David P

    Conservatives don’t care about children

    Actually, conservatives want children back in school because they care about children. If you had actually read the article, you would know (1) there is more than “one article” and (2) shutting down schools harms the most vulnerable children who depend on them as a sanctuary. Of course, you are too busy virtue signaling from the comfort of your affluent lifestyle to actually study the issues in order to make intelligent comments.

  7. 7
    BobRyan says:

    David P:

    Conservatives care about children in inner-cities far more than liberals. It is conservatives who point out things like more black children aborted than born, which have been the target of Planned Parenthood since long before they changed their name. Sanger made it clear when she said segregation or sterilization. The only group segregated at the time was the black community.

    Conservatives point out the poor schools in the inner-cities, the high drop out rate, the chaos of having a single parent raise children, the problems with city councils in regards to small businesses via zoning laws, which negatively impact black people.

    Democrats have been running most cities for decades. The promises haven not been fulfilled in a single city run by Democrats. It’s one thing to talk about the poor, but something else entirely to do something. Where is the evidence that liberals actually care about anything enough to actually do something that has born positive fruit?

  8. 8
    Bob O'H says:

    The report is unfortunate because it came out 3 days before a big Korean study on child to adult infection in households, which found evidence for reduced child to adult transmission for children younger than 10, but for 10 and above the transmission was the same as for adults. The only contact tracing study the report cites comes to the same conclusion (less transmission for younger children, the same for older children and adults).

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    Isn’t this what is best

    before a big Korean study on child to adult infection in households, which found evidence for reduced child to adult transmission for children younger than 10, but for 10 and above the transmission was the same as for adults.

    Isn’t this near ideal. So a vast number of the population will get the virus who are low risk. Seems a good way to reach herd immunity.

    Then treat those who show symptoms with a cure. Is Sweden the example to follow except for their atrocious treatment of elderly?

    Does anyone believe the virus will go away by isolation or even desirable especially with the vast negative effects of shut downs?

  10. 10
    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry –

    Isn’t this near ideal. So a vast number of the population will get the virus who are low risk. Seems a good way to reach herd immunity

    (a) you would need most of the populaation to be infected.
    (b) even with a low risk, people will still die.

    Then treat those who show symptoms with a cure. Is Sweden the example to follow except for their atrocious treatment of elderly?

    Err, no. Unless you like people getting sick and dying.

    The effective methods aren’t rocket science – social distancing, and track and trace. Once the numbers are low enough, track and trace gets easier, so you can open up. It’s what countries like Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand have done.

  11. 11
    jerry says:

    Err, no. Unless you like people getting sick and dying

    Nobody wants that but if there is no ridding of the virus, what you propose is that we essentially do this forever. The virus will not just disappear. Even if it does there may be immense destruction by the procedures you propose till it is gone. There already is for the people who are forced to isolate and have no incomes.

    open up. It’s what countries like Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand have done.

    And just what have they done since I doubt they have rid themselves of the virus and definitely the potential of the virus even in areas where it is not currently.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    Bob O’H:

    The effective methods aren’t rocket science

    Take the medically recommended prophylaxis and increase your odds of survival by at least 10 fold

  13. 13
    orthomyxo says:

    And just what have they done since I doubt they have rid themselves of the virus and definitely the potential of the virus even in areas where it is not currently.

    New Zealand is closing in on three months without a community-acquired case and has no restrictions whatsoever outside of the border. Other countries like South Korea maintain physical distancing but have no shutdown, because they have the contact tracing capacity to contain outbreaks as they occur. It might be true the US is not capable of getting the disease down to low prevalence or contact tracing built up, but it’s not a fait accompli that the virus will just run through everyone.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    I would think there are air purifiers that use filters and UV-C to trap and kill viruses. All classrooms should be outfitted with them. They would be on low during class time, then turned up when classes change.

  15. 15
    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry @ 11 – as Orthomyxo has pointed out, even if we don’t eradicate COVID-19, we can still suppress it enough that we can get much closer to normal. Norway is largely back to normal, because the country shut down and used that time to get a longer-term response in place (e.g. contact tracing, and lots of hand sanitiser).

  16. 16
  17. 17
    jerry says:

    as Orthomyxo has pointed out, even if we don’t eradicate COVID-19, we can still suppress it enough that we can get much closer to normal.

    Well, hopefully this is true though I do not see how at the moment. Orthomyxo pointed to two island nations, one actually and extremely small and the other essentially an island. Isolation even if it is feasible because of this will not work in the long run for even these two countries.

    At the moment I understand that most salaries are being paid in most of these nations but the money is running out and will stop soon. We will have to see what happens then. For example, what will Germany do if their automobile industry shuts down or is curtailed substantially and there is no money for others?

    Something similar is happening in a lot of the US but there are large pockets of the economy usually employing tens of millions of people where this is impossible. People are not working and some money is being paid by governments either borrowing or printing. Both of which are not feasible for more than a few months. Tax revenues that are the source for public worker’s salaries is down extremely and won’t come back till sales taxes come back. The other sources of taxes might not dry up but will be severely curtailed.

    Norway with a very small population and essentially free electricity and a huge surplus of cash from oil is not close to typical. I would never use it an example for anyone else to follow.

  18. 18
    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry – you can look at other European countries too, e.g. Germany. Even Spain and Italy have the situation under control at the moment. The problem, I think, is largely about having the political will to put the resources and effort into effective action.

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    Germany. Even Spain and Italy have the situation under control at the moment.

    Do they?

    I asked my next door neighbor who is German and whose family other than herself are still there what was Germany doing. She did not know too much but essentially said that everyone was staying home and being paid. One of her brother’s wives went into the town offices during the week because her job requires she be there but mostly people are staying home.

    This cannot go on for very long as the money will run out to pay the people. There is an old proverb about something not growing on trees. In Germany the automobile industry is having hard times. Where will the money come from?

  20. 20
    Retired Physicist says:

    German bond rates are incredibly low, which means investors don’t think Germany will have a problem finding money anytime soon. Anecdotes aside, the evidence shows that Germany is doing really well at this.

  21. 21
    jerry says:

    German bond rates are incredibly low

    What are these low rates?

    Anecdotes aside, the evidence shows that Germany is doing really well at this.

    I asked a German with family in Germany and she could not say why Germany is doing well.

    I told her France and Belgium on their western border had done horribly and Poland on its eastern border had done even better than Germany. This is one person but she has close family in Germany so I asked her.

    I saw one place where Germany is paying a large percentage of their citizens 80% of their normal salary for doing nothing. That cannot go on.

    The virus is not going away. Maybe an effective vaccine will be available. But if not then it is isolation forever which cannot work either. In a year we will know a lot more. And a lot more will be dead because of politics.

  22. 22
    Retired Physicist says:

    So you’ve got an anecdote and no ability to find bond prices like a normal human being. Not giving me a lot of faith Jerry.

  23. 23
    Retired Physicist says:

    “The virus is not going away”

    “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear” -Donald Trump

    You’re right, the politics of some morons is getting people killed.

  24. 24
    ET says:

    People being ignorant and irresponsible are getting themselves killed. You have to be a moron to heed the medical advice of a politician with no medical training.

  25. 25
    Bob O'H says:

    RP – and the anecdote is from someone who Jerry says admitted that they didn’t know too much.

    Most people may be staying home because they’re working from home. For a lot of jobs that can be done, and it part of an effective response to the epidemic.

  26. 26
    jerry says:

    Not giving me a lot of faith

    I know the bond rates. I wanted to see if you did because you did not mention the rates. They do not support your thesis.

    So you’ve got an anecdote

    Yes, and the person pointed me to a large website which also said nothing concrete. I thought I would start with someone who is from Germany who talks with her family frequently. And I have asked here and looked elsewhere. I get nebulous information on why Germany should be different. Why is Poland even better?

    the politics of some morons is getting people killed.

    Like what? Certainly the people opposing Trump are getting people killed. Who else? The press definitely. The Drug industry definitely. Many entrenched government officials definitely. Certainly governors in the northeastern US definitely.

  27. 27
    Retired Physicist says:

    Bob OH yeah yields on German bonds are actually negative for chrissake, and according to yield curves investors are giving Germany a 0.23 chance of defaulting in the next five years, which tells you all you need to know that Germany’s current and expected spending is doing great actually. The 10 year German bond yield is -.4% right now, they literally have the lowest bond yield in the world. Their finances are in amazing shape.

  28. 28
    Retired Physicist says:

    “I know the bond rates. I wanted to see if you did”

    Dude, you’re embarrassing yourself. I’m gonna go do something else now, I don’t wanna participate in that.

  29. 29
    jerry says:

    Their finances are in amazing shape.

    So negative interest rates are a sign of health? Amazing. Are they indicative that the investors believe their world will deflate which is not good news?

    Dude, you’re embarrassing yourself

    I am trying to get some answers and finding out many of those commenting do not have anything of substance to offer. So when is trying to understand something, embarrassing yourself? Not anywhere I was taught.

  30. 30
    ET says:

    RP:

    The 10 year German bond yield is -.4% right now, they literally have the lowest bond yield in the world.

    That’s not good. That means you are earning less than you are investing.

    Yes, please go do something else. Perhaps get an education.

  31. 31
    daveS says:

    🤦

  32. 32
    jerry says:

    An appropriate Scott Adams tweet

    Once you notice the left has completely replaced argument with sarcasm, you can’t unsee it. The exception is when they have some fake news to use in their arguments.

    Actually I would add irrelevant minutiae and ad hominems to that.

  33. 33
    orthomyxo says:

    Well, hopefully this is true though I do not see how at the moment. Orthomyxo pointed to two island nations, one actually and extremely small and the other essentially an island

    Well, the Korean is not an island and South Korea is a densely populated area with a large number of international travellers. New Zealand is also larger and more densely populated (in the places where there are people) than most realise. But lots of countries have got themselves back to something like normal (Cambodia, Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Austria and Estonia all have fewer restrictions than the US and far lower prevalence). I really despair for my friends in the US, because there is no political will to agree on an acceptable result and work towards that, which will probably lead to series of outbreaks like we are seeing in the sun belt now popping up across the country for quite a long time.

  34. 34
    vividbleau says:

    “Bob OH yeah yields on German bonds are actually negative for chrissake, and according to yield curves investors are giving Germany a 0.23 chance of defaulting in the next five years, which tells you all you need to know that Germany’s current and expected spending is doing great actually. The 10 year German bond yield is -.4% right now, they literally have the lowest bond yield in the world. Their finances are in amazing shape.”

    This is a topic that I know a bit about and I can’t believe the stupidity of this statement. I suggest you stick to physics.

    Vivid

  35. 35
    ET says:

    According to Investopedia:

    A negative bond yield is when an investor receives less money at the bond’s maturity than the original purchase price for the bond.

    Even when factoring in the coupon rate or interest rate paid by the bond, a negative-yielding bond means the investor lost money at maturity.

  36. 36
    daveS says:

    ET,

    So in the case of Germany, they are selling bonds for more than they have to pay back to the buyers.

  37. 37
    TimR says:

    I live in NZ, which as Orhoxymo says is a lot larger than most people think – see link below. The population is small but quite concentrated as most people are urbanised. We have no community cases and have not had for some months. The only cases are those that are picked up at the border (mandatory 2 week quarantine). We have no restrictions whatsoever on our activities. The economy is doing better than expected. We are about to open our borders with some of our pacific island neighbours. The plan to create a bubble with Aus is temporarily on hold due to Melbourne and Sydney suffering second wave infections.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/nz/114778829/how-new-zealands-land-mass-compares-to-europe

  38. 38
    jerry says:

    New Zealand is also larger and more densely populated (in the places where there are people) than most realise.

    I lived for a year in New Zealand. It is mainly farm land with a mountain range down the west side in the South Island. It had 30 million sheep when I was there.

    Well, the Korean is not an island

    South Korea has no border with the rest of the world. Unless you want to consider N. Korea as the way to get into Korea. So it is essentially an island.

    (Cambodia, Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Austria and Estonia all have fewer restrictions than the US and far lower prevalence).

    And what did they do?

  39. 39
    orthomyxo says:

    They all did slightly different things, contact tracing and case-isolatoin, hard border measures, short strong lockdowns followed by easing, mask-wearing all contribute (as do climate and timing of the epidemic, of course).

  40. 40
    Mac McTavish says:

    Orthomyxo, what would be really interesting to compare are countries that had a unified, non-partisan and consistent message versus those that had a divided, partisan and inconsistent message.

  41. 41
    ET says:

    So the investors buy $50,000 in German bonds knowing they are only going to get $45,000 back in x years (upon maturity)?

    I guess if you had to or you would lose more than that via taxes (for example). Definitely not good if you are just starting your portfolio.

  42. 42
    ET says:

    You should subtract all of the elderly fatalities from nursing and veterans’ homes from the total. That was complete mismanagement @ the State and local levels.

    How many countries sent sick elderly people back to nursing homes? How does our elderly death rate compare to other countries?

  43. 43
    jerry says:

    They all did slightly different things, contact tracing and case-isolatoin, hard border measures, short strong lockdowns followed by easing, mask-wearing all contribute

    It sounds like you don’t really know.

    I will say one thing about one of the countries you mentioned. S. Korea used CQ and HCQ almost immediately. I don’t have information on their use of zinc but HCQ use was immediate. It was the model for Zelenko.

    As far as the use of HCQ, there is this interesting chart which I assume is right because I haven’t seen anything to contradict it. https://bit.ly/2Cw9ccN

  44. 44
    Mac McTavish says:

    ET

    How many countries sent sick elderly people back to nursing homes? How does our elderly death rate compare to other countries?

    I believe I read somewhere that Canada has the worst record in the world with respect to COVID infections and deaths in old age homes.

  45. 45
    ET says:

    The USA had more elderly deaths due to the nursing home fiascos than Canada had total deaths.

  46. 46
    Mac McTavish says:

    ET

    The USA had more elderly deaths due to the nursing home fiascos than Canada had total deaths.

    That may be true, but over 80% of COVID deaths in Canada were in long term care facilities whereas in the US it is just over 40%.

  47. 47
    Mac McTavish says:

    A follow up to the issue of COVID deaths in long term care facilities. I just found an article that compares the number of COVID deaths per million and the number of long term care beds per million.

    This column uses data on 32 in Europe and the 50 US states to show that the COVID -19 death rate is higher in countries and states with more long-term care beds. This provides evidence that living in long-term care facilities is a significant risk factor for death from COVID-19, and suggests that countries should adopt policies to protect their older populations living in such facilities before the second wave (likely) arrives.

    https://voxeu.org/article/long-term-care-facilities-risk-factor-death-covid-19

  48. 48
    Bob O'H says:

    (as do climate and timing of the epidemic, of course)

    Timing yes, climate no. I’ve been looking through papers on this, and most are awful, none is terribly good, and the results are all over the place. There are also good epidemiological reasons for not expecting a strong effect of climate.

  49. 49
    ET says:

    Mac:

    That may be true,…

    It is true. The number of nursing home deaths in the USA dwarves the total number of dead in Canada

  50. 50
    Mac McTavish says:

    ET

    It is true. The number of nursing home deaths in the USA dwarves the total number of dead in Canada

    And the number of long-term-care beds in the US dwarves the number in Canada.

  51. 51
    TimR says:

    Mac McTavish @40:

    Another interesting comparison is those countries that have female leaders compared to those countries that have male leaders. The countries with female leaders have, on the whole, been vastly more effective at dealing with covid19

  52. 52
    Mac McTavish says:

    TimR, an interesting point. I have also notice a similar thing with jurisdictions with female chief medical officers.

  53. 53
    DaRook says:

    An interesting video was put out by the organization “One Child” which featured immunologist Scott Todd who talks about Covid19 and how amazing out immune system really is. He thinks masks are no more helpful than coughing or sneezing into your sleeve for most masks do not stop micro-droplets. Give him a listen at https://www.facebook.com/onechildmatters/videos/318933132830300/

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