Will your kids go back to school in the Fall? It might depend on where you live.
Many public health experts and economists have suggested that the first step into reopening or firing up any economy post-COVID-19, local, state, or nation-wide, begins with the reopening of daycares and schools. The reason why seems fairly obvious: without child care or education, working parents with young children aren’t able to return to the workplace because they can’t leave their kids alone in their homes, unsupervised, without care, leaving a massive driver of the workforce out of the economy and unable to make money.
Other countries have recognized this, and it’s why reopened schools have been one of the first steps countries like Germany, France, China, and South Korea have made in order to “return to normal” after their fights with COVID-19. The results of these reopenings have been mixed — in South Korea, schools delayed reopening after a spike in new cases, and in Germany, the transmission of COVID has risen above R(1), which was a major thing that Germany has been trying to avoid. France is reopening schools this month under stringent health guidelines like requiring socially distant recess and only for kids who are in kindergarten or younger, and parents aren’t required to send their kids back to school yet. And now, in the United States, public health experts and legislators are talking about when, and how, schools will reopen across the country.
Unfortunately, much like the situation is in Europe, school reopenings will vary widely between states, cities, and school districts, based on how the COVID-19 situation is going in those areas. When Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the leader of the White House’s response to the Coronavirus, testified before the Senate yesterday, he suggested as much.
When Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky rightly pointed out that more time out of school means that poor and underprivileged children will fall further behind in their education the longer that school is out, Dr. Fauci responded with the facts, namely that there’s still very much we don’t know about how the virus operates in children, and that recent developments of children developing serious issues after testing positive have given him pause. He also said that officials should avoid being “cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects of COVID-19.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) expects to release guidelines soon on how to reopen schools, businesses and religious institutions. While it’s hard to know exactly when, or in what form, schools will open, many have already committed to shutting their doors for the rest of the school year, only considering reopening their doors in September when most schools begin again. The child care industry has already taken a huge hit as a result of the temporary COVID closures, with as many as half of centers being unable to reopen unless they receive a substantial bailout from the government, which would be necessary to get parents back to work as economies begin to open again.