An often used rationale for reopening schools and putting children back in classrooms is a claim that they are more resistant to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Like many claims during this time of viral panic, the facts say otherwise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a “steadily mounting rate of novel coronavirus infections among children and too many of them are dying.
In Los Angeles, the Unified School District, the second largest in the nation, says it plans to periodically tests hundreds of thousands of students and 75,000 employees to “gain clarity on when in-person instruction can resume safely.
In the United States, more than 5,374,000 cases of the virus are verified and the rate continues to increase. An Arizona school district that had planned to reopen changed its mind after more than 100 staff members threatened to show up, saying schools are not safe for them or kids.
In Olathe, Kan., teacher Alisa Morris began tracking COVID-19 in schools.
“I was feeling overwhelmed by all the articles I was seeing online,” Morris, 29, told The Washington Post. “I really thought I was seeing duplicate articles.”
At first, I thought it was kind of great that I have something to do now — it can help ease my anxiety and become a purposeful task. And then it exploded into something pretty overwhelming and pretty depressing.
In 10 days, her spreadsheet went from 30 entrées to more than 700 — each entry a school impacted by infections from the virus. Her database shows every state has schools severely impacted by the virus — including Virginia.
Cherokee County School District in Georgia opened and then shut down three high schools and quarantined more than 2,000. In Nebraska, the Broken Bow District canceled classes after positive tests of COVID-19.
The CDC says the infection rate of students 17 and under has “increased steadily” from March to July while admitting that the true numbers are unknown because of a lack of widespread testing.
Initial low rates among children, the CDC says, may have come from school closures in the Spring.
“This may explain the low incidence in children compared with adults,” the agency said in a statement. “Comparing trends in pediatric infections before and after the return to in-person school and other activities may provide additional understanding about infections in children.”
The CDC also reports that children between 5 and 17 test positive for the virus at higher rates than any other age group. When found positive, those requiring hospitalization often end up in intensive care units, the center’s study said.
In Mississippi, more than 100 students and staff members tested positive right after the schools reopened for in-person learning, forcing hundreds more to quarantine. Mississippi has the highest seven-day average of reported deaths per capita in the country.
Nationally, school districts in several areas have canceled classes and reversed plans to reopen.
Former Food & Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb, appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” said about 330,000 children have been diagnosed with the virus with 90 or so dead, so far.
“There’s a lot we don’t understand about COVID-19 in kids,” Gottlieb said.
In Floyd County, the number of infections remained at zero until early April but rose onto to 30 by July 9, but it has mushroomed to 212 in five weeks.
Floyd is part of the New River Health District where the Virginia Department of Health says 81 people aged 19 and younger have contracted the virus in all the district.
Alleghany Health District, which included Roanoke County and Salem, has had 152 infections of those 19 and under. Roanoke City reported 160. Mount Rogers region, which includes Carroll County and Galax, had 192 infections in that age range.
None, the VDH says, died within that age range. Some doctors, however, say they have fond serious after effects in some children who have “recovered.”
Eight deaths in New River, the VDH report says, were people aged 60-80+. The agency report shows no deaths involving anyone younger than 40 in any of the heath districts serving areas around Floyd County.