In June, America was united, briefly, on the need to reopen schools. Other countries had managed to do so successfully, and evidence suggested children are at low risk from severe COVID-19 complications. But that was before President Trump tweeted his support for reopening. Soon, states that previously dodged the coronavirus experienced major outbreaks, and the conversation divided along party lines.
Today, school officials, teachers and pundits question if schools should reopen this fall — or at all — if the pandemic continues. There is no reason to cancel school, however, especially considering the steep economic costs.
Health experts suggest delaying school reopenings in hard-hit areas until the virus is under control — with luck, by early fall. They encourage states with low infection rates to open on time. So far there is no correlation between school openings and infection levels.
Despite high infection rates, Florida plans to reopen public schools in the next few weeks, while Gotham, which now has among the lowest rates in the country, will apparently proceed with its plan for children to attend school perhaps on a staggered basis. Chicago schools, meanwhile, won’t open until November, at least.
Allison Schrager is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, author of An Economist Walks Into a Brothel (Random House), and a co-founder of LifeCycle Finance Partners, LLC, a risk advisory firm. Follow her on Twitter here.
This piece was adapted from City Journal.
Photo by slovegrove/iStock