On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany offered this excellent response to a question about what the president would say to parents worried about sending their kids to school:
You know, the President has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open. And I was just in the Oval talking to him about that. And when he says open, he means open in full — kids being able to attend each and every day at their school.
The science should not stand in the way of this. And as Dr. Scott Atlas said — I thought this was a good quote — ‘Of course, we can [do it]. Everyone else in the…Western world, our peer nations are doing it. We are the outlier here.’
The science is very clear on this, you look at the JAMA Pediatrics study of 46 pediatric hospitals in North America that said the risk of critical illness from COVID is far less for children than that of seasonal flu.
The science is on our side here, and we encourage localities and states to just simply follow the science, open our schools. It’s very damaging to our children: There is a lack of reporting of abuse; there’s mental depressions that are not addressed; suicidal that are not addressed when students are not in school. Our schools are essential, and they must reopen.
She got the science exactly right, as I’ve compiled at some length here.
So what did the Washington Post, CNN, CBS and countless others do with that statement? They quoted “The science should not stand in the way of this,” out of context as if it were the full quote. No mention of “The science is on our side here, and we encourage localities and states to just simply follow the science, open our schools.”
This isn’t news coverage, it is distortion and propaganda. And they did it with clear knowledge and malicious intent. Here are a few more:
Let’s be clear on what’s going on here. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that children are at staggeringly low risk, far lower than the ordinary everyday risks we accept without a second thought.
These are the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control, confirming once again what CDC Director Robert Redfield referred to as “very limited pathogenicity” among people under age 45 in his recent comments at the White House opposing school closures.
Per the CDC, there have been a total of 14 deaths with COVID reported among children age 5 to 14 since February 1. During the same time period—which started after the peak of flu season—that age group had 47 flu deaths and 72 pneumonia deaths.
Same story on hospitalizations. According to the CDC COVIDView: “Overall cumulative hospitalization rates for COVID-19 at this time are higher than cumulative end-of-season hospitalization rates for influenza over each of the past 5 influenza seasons. However, for children (0-17 years), cumulative COVID-19 hospitalization rates are much lower than cumulative influenza hospitalization rates during recent influenza seasons” (emphasis added).
We have data from all over the world and more every day showing schools present virtually no risk to students or staff. A joint study by the national health authorities of Sweden, where primary schools never closed, and Finland, where schools reopened May 13, found:
Severe covid-19 disease as measured in ICU admittance is very rare in both countries in this age group and no deaths were reported. Outbreak investigations in Finland has not shown children to be contributing much in terms of transmission and in Sweden a report comparing risk of covid-19 in different professions, showed no increased risk for teachers. In conclusion, closure or not of schools had no measurable direct impact on the number of laboratory confirmed cases in school-aged children in Finland or Sweden.
A recent study from Dresden in the state of Saxony, Germany found that children not only do not increase spread of the disease but actually serve as brakes, terminating chains of transmission. Based on the study, Saxony, which has had open schools for months, is dropping their mask requirement.
The enormous risks and harms of school closures continue to mount. Children are suffering enormous educational setbacks from the loss of instruction time and social and emotional isolation. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for high school students; even a 1 percent increase would mean more deaths in that age group than we’ve seen with COVID. Don’t take my word for it. Redfield said on July 7: “The greater risk to our society is if we have schools closed.”
But as soon as President Trump came out against school closures, the media and Democrats reacted with extreme negative partisanship, looking to exploit parents’ fears and anxieties to score political points against the president. We need to do better than to give in to those fears and anxieties, and the dishonest politically motivated media campaign to exploit them. We owe that to our children.
Dr. Mark McDonald said it far better than I can in these remarks to the Orange County School Board, which voted for full school opening without masks or social distancing after hearing McDonald speak. He said:
Children are not dying from Covid-19. Children are not passing the disease on to adults. So the only question is, ‘Why are we even having this meeting tonight?’ We’re meeting because we adults are afraid.
As parents, we will face many moments of anxiety: seeing our children off on their first day of kindergarten, their first day of camp, their first year of college. We may want to keep them home to protect them from the world, which can indeed be a frightening place. But let’s be clear, when we do that, we are not really protecting our children. We are only attempting to manage our own anxiety, and we do that at their expense. We are acting as negligent parents. We are harming our children. We are failing them.
We must agree to make decisions in the best interest of the children. If we do not – if, paralyzed by fear, we continue to act purely out of self-interest – we will ensure an entire generation of traumatized young adults, consigned to perpetual adolescence and residency in their parents’ garages, unable to move through life with independence, courage, and confidence. They deserve better — we owe it to them as parents.