Apoorva Mandavilli, a journalist from the New York Times, graciously interviewed me about what reopening of schools looks like in the midst of a pandemic. The conversation happened in the context of this past week when the pressure to reopen schools has become a political grenade. Dr. Megan Ranney recommended me for the interview, so a big appreciation to my friend and colleague.
For the past few weeks, I have been feeling a sense of foreboding and that we are being asked to do something profoundly unsafe. I shared my perspective with the journalist and summed up my concern with this statement: “I’m just going to say it: It feels like we’re playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff.” I don’t like to instill or promote fear but is irresponsible to pretend that school reopening in the fall is business as usual as the President and many in his administration would like us to believe.
We need a national response to COVID-19 from leaders who center the safety of children, not partisan posturing. Is there anywhere that we can agree that the safety of children is paramount. We are missing a national plan. We have no plans for testing, tracing, and isolating. We have no large epidemiological studies to fully understand transmission so that we can make decisions based on evidence. I haven’t even mentioned the antiquated ventilation systems that plague many aging school buildings or how the transmission could very well be airborne
We are witnessing the death of expertise, a dismissal of the World Health Organization, discounting the guidelines from the CDC, and ignoring what is happening right before our eyes, the exponential spiking of cases across the country. Consequential decisions are being made that will impact the health and safety of students and staff. And that is why I said what I said…