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After most of the United States was enjoying somewhat of a break in COVID-19 surges and closures in the latter part of the summer, COVID-19, which still roams freely, has led into a second resurgence in almost every state in the latter fall and is leading to potential lockdowns and closures. At the heat of some of this argument is whether schools from pre-K to high school should be closed.  Some would argue that schools have been doing a good job and keeping the virus at bay for the most part after the earlier disasters with school openings by having mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing instituted. Having schools open allow parents to return to work or work more easily from home without distractions. Also, many argue that spread of COVID-19 was more so due to large gatherings, be it outdoor or indoor, and also activities like indoor dining, gyms, and movie theaters and that spread in schools is much less of an issue because they have been taking the necessary precautions.

Just on November 23, 2020, Dr Fauci, who has been a face behind the national effort, argued that schools should remain open and bars and gyms should remain closed.  If it makes sense to the nation’s top coronavirus advisor, then why have many municipalities remained closed?  Could it be that teacher’s unions do not want to take risks of teachers getting sick again?  Could it be parents who advocate for school closures.  The biggest question remains if these judgements are being supported by science.  It would seem that perhaps they are not.

In an article in New York Magazine on November 24, in an interview with Lisa Miller, she said the rate of transmission in the New York City schools has been negligible.  She also said that while schools then have been closed, she drove through Little Italy in Manhattan and so many maskless diners huddled together around tables.  These dining scenarios are not being dealt with even though they have been said to be the cause of some of these transmissions besides large gatherings. The schools at least were adhering to public health guidelines and enforcing them but other establishments that have been open have not been doing so and this is cause for more cases to occur. Certainly, the lack of clearly defined leadership about controlling the virus lends a hand to the mixed messages like school closures when the test positivity rates of COVID rise but the keeping of bars and restaurants open.  Hopefully with the presidential transition and introduction of vaccines, solutions to these problems can ensue.

Written by Usha Govindarajulu

November 25, 2020