Regarding recent school closures in Schuylkill County … are we trusting the science and data or are we trusting the teachers unions?
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen some Schuylkill County public school districts close their doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The following school districts have already closed all or some of their schools for a period of time after a few reported cases of the virus:
- Blue Mountain
- Saint Clair
- North Schuylkill
That’s denying science, if you’re to believe the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some Schuylkill County Schools Close Due to Positive COVID Tests
Now, we’re not saying that schools are definitely being influenced by their teachers union to close the schools when there are reports of COVID cases among students or staff, simply what they’re saying. Here’s what the science and data is saying and what the teachers unions are saying.
The Science and Data Says …
Last week, Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said the last thing schools should do right now is shut down. To do so, he said, is to buy into fear and emotion rather than objectively look at data.
“Today, there’s extensive data that we have—we’ve gathered over the last two to three months—that confirm that K-12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning and they can do it safely and they can do it responsibly,” Redfield said, in this report from The Daily Wire.
Redfield said, actually, that schools are probably the safest places for school-age children to be. COVID infections are not being acquired within the school walls. Instead, it’s from students being out in the community or in their homes.
Most public schools in Schuylkill County are tracking their cases and posting information on them publicly, including the actions they’re taking to mitigate the spread of the virus. Normally, a school says it has a positive case, it conducts a contact tracing investigation, and chooses people to place under self-quarantine outside the school.
And that’s the extent of the school’s response.
But now, you combine those cases with the increasingly loud drumbeat of daily case totals from the media and their new heightened panic level in reporting those numbers and you have schools rethinking the data and the science.
The Teachers Unions Say …
Back on Nov. 11, Pennsylvania State Education Association President Rich Askey released a statement essentially calling school districts irresponsible for staying open as case numbers rise among the public.
This statement was posted to at least one local school district’s teachers union Facebook page.
Askey says most schools, including Schuylkill County schools, should at least be transitioning to a full-virtual schedule.
“The state departments of Health and Education developed these guidelines based on good science and what the infection rates are in a school’s community,” he said. “We must follow these guidelines to the letter. It’s the best way for us to slow the spread of this virus and keep our students, staff, and their families safe.”
In fact, he called it unacceptable that schools in areas with a substantial community spread of the virus – which includes Schuylkill County – aren’t already using a full-virtual schedule.
Askey said the teachers are following the science – good science, in fact – in calling for schools to close. But in reality, unless the CDC isn’t science, they’re not following the science or data. This statement is purely based on emotion.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for any school district to disregard the advice of medical professionals and scientists during a pandemic and put the safety of students, staff, and their families at risk,” Askey said.
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