American school children have been volleyed like ping pong balls since the start of the pandemic. The first indications that a serious plague was heading our way came in the form of hugely terrifying death projections. Those turned out to be false.
Then, it wasn’t long before it also became apparent that kids were not “super-spreaders,” yet Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — and national darling — recommended in March that schools shut their doors. Now, along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, he’s changed his tune, and they now both act like they always held their current views on the essential nature of education.
Setting the Record Straight
On March 16, only a week after de Blasio worked out at his gym and said coronavirus was no big deal, New York City public schools closed their doors to 1.1 million students. In a matter of days, many private schools switched to fully remote learning. Public schools, however, did not. By mid-April, remote learning was sort of happening, but for many kids who did not have access to broadband internet or the requisite devices, remote learning turned out to be no education at all.
De Blasio went quickly from claiming the coronavirus shouldn’t stop people from eating out to begging that the very economic engines of the city be shut down. By April 12, Fauci “gave his blessing“ to de Blasio to keep NYC schools shuttered for the remainder of the school year. When Florida Gov. Ron Ron DeSantis wanted schools to stay open, Fauci balked, stating, “If you have a situation where you don’t have a real good control over an outbreak and you allow children together, they will likely get infected.”
As teachers’s unions negotiated with local governments as to how remote learning would operate, teachers in the Seattle area said because there was inequity in tech accessibility, there should be no remote learning at all. The Los Angeles teachers’s union made demands about school reopening that had nothing to do with COVID-19 but were about social justice curriculum changes and the closing down of charter schools. And the schools remained closed.
We got word from Europe, which was hit hard and shut down before the United States did, that kids were not spreading the virus the way adults were. By late May, the United Nations reported that while some 1.5 billion students worldwide were out of school, 22 European countries were opening up classrooms to bring kids back to school. Among those nations, there were no school-based spikes in cases.
Dr. Scott Atlas, then part of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 task force, said in June that the science showed those under 18 “have little risk whatsoever from this virus” and that it was “obvious” that schools should be open. By summertime in Europe, there were concerns, but still, no school-based case increases. Trump was roundly derided for saying “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and many other countries, schools are open with no problems,” but it was still true.
Seeing the Light…Too Late
Mental health problems for young people deprived of education, social life, and activities contributed to rising drug overdose deaths among young people. By August, the CDC released figures that said young people were considering suicide at troublingly high rates. By September, Fauci was still saying schools needed to stay closed and De Blasio pushed opening day back to Sept. 21. Yet, by Nov. 18, per the CDC, only 123 people under 18 had died from the virus.
Even then, students could only attend in-person classes two days per week, and most of the city’s children would be at home. In New York, a school’s ability to remain open was negotiated with the teachers’s union, and it was agreed that if cases citywide hit three percent, schools would close. On Nov. 18, with less than 24 hours of notice, that exact scenario happened. Schools shut down and De Blasio said that even when the case count dropped to below three percent, schools would not automatically reopen.
When parents understandably freaked out, De Blasio took notice, and announced on Nov. 29 that schools were to reopen on Dec. 7. “We know that the health realities for the youngest kids are the most favorable,” de Blasio said.
This was a stark departure from his previous overwhelming concern, and he did not address the concerns of parents but instead touted his test and trace team, and the increased, mandatory, twice-weekly testing that would happen in all New York City schools.
Fauci, too, changed his tune, saying on Nov. 29 to “close the bars and keep the schools open, obviously you don’t have one size fits all … but the default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the kids in school and to get them back in school.”
It’s clear now that what Fauci and de Blasio did was play politics with the education of America’s kids, who were held hostage to whimsy. Now, those who kept schools close now dare to say that they wanted schools open from the beginning?
Failing America’s Children
Teachers’s unions in California pushed for the school closures, and as they did so, they pushed for alternative educational institutions to be closed as well. There’s no reason for this. More than 98 percent of those under 50 survive the virus, children do not appear to spread the virus. This was true in May when the relevant data emerged from Europe.
Children are failing in schools, and other school systems, like New York, simply abandoned grading altogether. Allegedly, this was done to make sure kids didn’t lose out due to remote learning difficulties, but instead, it was done to hide the failures of the virtual learning models.
Were Fauci and de Blasio simply lying to the American people? Or were they just trying to make Trump look foolish? Trump wanted schools open, and he said so, but because “orange man bad,” media and politicians demanded that schools remain closed.
Instead of opening schools, Democrats terrorized parents into a state of quivering fear where they worried that kids and teachers would face wonton death if classes resumed in full. It was simply false, yet it was done to obstruct Trump and continue to write the narrative that he alone was to blame for the virus that originated in China.
The same party that has been touting the importance of education for decades upon decades forced a massive education inequity in this country, making it impossible for poor and middle-class kids to get properly educated.
It’s true, there’s nothing more important than educating our kids. Indeed, without being properly educated, they can be easily manipulated. And, while there are risks to the left-leaning curriculum, those are things that can be addressed. What is most damaging to the future of the country will be kids who can’t read, can’t do math, and cannot think clearly because they simply don’t know how. By depriving them of education while letting them fall into endless screens and idleness, we are poisoning our kids. For this, our nation will pay the price.
Schools were closed to stick it to Trump, and now that Biden has secured the win, schools are beginning to open. The nation was held hostage to a Biden win, and the education of our kids is still being held hostage to union interests. It’s time for parents to fight back and demand that reading, writing, and arithmetic take precedence over fear, ignorance, and vengeance.
This article has been corrected since publication.