By Steven Hall
Thirty doctors at the University of California at San Francisco have published an open letter calling for the reopening of both elementary and secondary California public schools “by February 1 or as soon as possible.”
“Teachers and other school staff are key players in this process and should be viewed as essential workers. Their health and safety are paramount. Fortunately, we now have robust data demonstrating that schools may be safely reopened, and school-based transmission [of COVID-19] remains very infrequent when universal masking and social distancing rules are carefully followed,” the doctors wrote.
“Given the significant negative health and educational consequences of school closures for children and their families, coupled with robust data supporting reopening with appropriate mitigation strategies, we strongly support efforts to reopen California schools as soon as possible,” they continued.
“As pediatricians, internists, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, emergency physicians, and other healthcare professionals, we believe these strategies need immediate support and implementation, so that all schools can reopen for in-person learning by February 1st or as soon as permitted by the state,” the letter finished.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom currently plans to reopen elementary schools for the youngest students sometime in February. Newsom is requiring that middle and high schools reopen when the county they are located in is in the so-called “red tier”—meaning, a lower rate of infections.
The specialties of the health care professionals who signed the open letter range from infectious diseases to adolescent health. They say the consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns and closing down of schools are paramount, from the 10 months of lost learning to the social isolation.
A study from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found that among 5,000 young people ages 12 to 17, there were severe health challenges that these youths faced. Twenty-eight percent polled felt lonely “most of the time” or “all of the time,” 22% felt stressed and nervous most or all of the time, and 69% said they were going to bed later during the COVID-19 lockdown than before.
In mid-December, California’s leading teachers unions opposed any school reopenings without increased funding for safety precautions.
“Let us be clear, no one wants to be back in our classrooms with our students where we know they learn best, more than educators,” a California Teachers Association letter said. “Safety, however, should not be a relative or subjective term up to regional or political interpretation.”
Originally published by The Daily Signal. Republished with permission.