The Corner

Education

Trump Isn’t ‘Ignoring Science’ on School Reopenings

President Trump speaks during an event on reopening schools at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 7, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Donald Trump has been pressuring public schools around the country to fully reopen. So, of course, nearly every piece and cable news segment I saw on the issue yesterday either contended or insinuated that the president was “ignoring science” — the Washington Post’s cool-headed conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin simply accused Trump of wanting to “kill your kids.”

Unmentioned by most is the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics, a group that represents 67,000 pediatricians, “strongly advocates” that every policy about next year “start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

The group goes on:

The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.

The left likes to unsheathe “science” whenever it wants to shut down debates over policy tradeoffs, but in this case, not even “science” is opposed to reopening schools. Some European countries have successfully kept schools open throughout the pandemic, and others have had them open since April. Denmark, Austria, and Germany have all begun reopening classrooms, and none have seen a significant increase in cases.

I don’t know if the American Pediatric Association will ultimately be right, but the fact that the CDC — which, let’s not forget, advised Americans not to wear facemasks as the pandemic exploded and then later sent out tests tainted with COVID — has done everything it can to dissuade schools from holding in-person classes this fall does not imbue me with great confidence. Yet, not even the CDC has recommended school closures.

In the end, the decision over school reopenings will hinge on numerous societal considerations and not merely “science” — which itself is open to interpretation and debate. This is one of those times the public could use lots more information, but instead, as is often the case during the Trump era, they are subjected to journalistic malpractice.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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