Fauci: I completely agree, schools should be our priority in keeping things open

From what I can tell, literally everyone everywhere now agrees with this sentiment. Except of course for select members of our terrible leadership class, foremost among them our lord and master, the supreme authority in American governance, the American Federation of Teachers. Watch, then read on.

It’s fun watching Andrew Cuomo’s brother wonder aloud why authorities can’t just do the obviously right thing by keeping schools open.

What conceivable data-based argument is there at this point that the benefit from closing schools outweighs the cost? From WaPo:

The U.N. agency [UNICEF] said data from 91 countries shows no consistent link between reopening schools and higher rates of infection from the coronavirus. The report, which warns of a “lost covid generation,” says children are more likely to get the virus outside of school settings.

The report also stresses the deep harm to children — particularly those in vulnerable communities — by keeping them away from school. “There is strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them,” the report says.

I’ve linked the data from Brown University’s study of infections in schools many times. The latest numbers show fewer cases in schools in New York City than in the city at large, which somehow was no impediment to shutting down the entire system on Wednesday when the overall positivity rate crossed the arbitrary threshold of three percent.

“[S]chools are essential, and should be treated as such. When we prioritize, they should be among the last things to close. Almost everything else should be put on pause first,” wrote pediatrician Aaron Carroll in the Times this week. “This is what Europe is doing. No one can explain why, once again, the United States is choosing its own path.” We may start following the European path after all, however belatedly. Politico notes this morning the growing consensus that schools should stay open even if we need to lock down certain businesses to try to contain the spread of the virus. That consensus would be much, much easier if the sociopaths in Congress would get together on another stimulus that would keep bars and restaurants afloat after being shuttered, but the consensus is forming nonetheless.

With the fall semester chalked up to a loss in many places, the spring presents a fresh opportunity to reverse course, said David Rubin, director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

It’s simple, he said. Prioritize opening schools. Keep restrictions on everything else in place…

Community spread, or even in-school transmission, isn’t shuttering schools everywhere. In New Jersey, [Gov. Phil] Murphy said unequivocally last week “we are not closing our schools,” but even as new coronavirus cases topped 4,000 for three days this week, Murphy has been holding steady, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, “I honestly can’t see a scenario” where the state closes schools before indoor dining and gym facilities.

An idea I’m toying with, via Tim Carney: Should we give teachers priority in vaccination? Not priority over doctors and other medical personnel, obviously, but in the next tier below those people. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 3.7 million teachers in the U.S. If the head of Operation Warp Speed is right that we’ll be able to do 20 million vaccinations by the end of the year, we could do every doctor, nurse, and EMT *and* every teacher and still have some left over.

But there’s a counterargument. Why should teachers get to skip the line over, say, elderly people with comorbidities? Why should they skip ahead of the military or workers essential to the food supply, like meatpackers? Teachers aren’t at special risk. If anything, they’re a little safer in their workplace than everyone else is. The only reason to give them priority in vaccination is to eliminate the teachers’ union’s pretext for keeping schools closed — which would mean rewarding the union for its reluctance to staff schools, knowing full well how much damage they’re doing to kids’ development. What’s to stop the meatpackers or workers in some other vital industry from going on strike to assert their own leverage vis-a-vis the teachers? If the AFT doesn’t care about Americans and their children, the meatpackers should be under no obligation to care either.

Here’s the head of the AFT trying to bullsh*t her way through an interview on Fox last night. According to her, a three-percent positivity rate in NYC — among the lowest in the country — is a “skyrocketing” surge.

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