White House press secretary Jen Psaki misconstrued the results of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on student and teacher transmission of COVID-19 to fit President Joe Biden’s ever-growing anti-school-reopening agenda.
“The CDC study, which I know has received a lot of attention, was based on kind of an area that was more rural in Wisconsin. … For areas where they are more populated or schools where there is a lot more foot traffic … there are going to need to be a lot of steps put in place in order to make the schools reopening safe,” Psaki said.
This means, the press secretary continued, that schools shouldn’t reopen until “every school is able to have the equipment and resources to open safely, not just rural schools or private schools, which often is where a lot of the school reopenings and schools staying open is happening.”
.@PressSec that the CDC study that schools are safe to go back to was "based on an area that was more rural" and "for areas that are more populated… there are going to need a lot of steps put into place to make the schools re-opening safe." pic.twitter.com/3whQam2WD5
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 28, 2021
Psaki’s assessment, however, is wrong. In the CDC study published on Tuesday, researchers found that among 5,530 students and staff members in a rural Wisconsin county, only seven of the 191 COVID-19 cases reported in the month-long study period were traced back to in-school transmission. According to researchers’ analysis paired with other studies suggesting similar results, most scientists studying coronavirus spread in schools have concluded that the “rural” conditions Psaki claimed prevented the study’s findings from being widely applied weren’t very different from other urban districts.
Even CNN admitted that the study’s demonstrated COVID-19 transmission in schools was “uncommon” and that in-classroom learning appeared to be “potentially safer” for students concerning education and health, an analysis praised as accurate by one of the lead researchers.
Oh my gosh 🙌🏻. Thank you @drsanjaygupta for your very accurate interpretation of our study’s results. The data are there. Very little spread in schools compared with the community. Now it is up to us as adults to do the right thing for our kids and open all k-12 schools. https://t.co/NALoEKnER4
— Tracy Høeg, MD, PhD (@TracyBethHoeg) January 27, 2021
In the press briefing, Psaki also claimed Biden wants schools to reopen quickly, but earlier this week, Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain joined the ranks in publicly denying the science on COVID-19 transmission in schools on CNN, saying it was only after a grant for safety measures was applied to the Wisconsin school in question that students were allowed to return. In his interview, Klain sided with teachers unions in the fight to reopen for in-person learning, saying there were still educator demands that districts in the United States should meet before considering returning to classrooms.
“I don’t think unions are overruling studies,” Klain said on CNN. “I think what you’re seeing is schools that haven’t made the investments to keep the students safe.”
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain is asked why teachers unions are keeping schools closed despite studies showing no evidence of transmission:
"I don’t think unions are overruling studies. You’re seeing schools that haven’t made the investments to keep students safe" pic.twitter.com/jliNXlrMPx
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 27, 2021