I do not understand the hysteria and fear that some parents are exhibiting about Frederick County Public Schools starting the hybrid model. I applaud Superintendent Alban's leadership in moving forward on this initiative despite the teachers union's opposition and unrealistic expectations of some parents. Here is why:

1. The CDC has stated that COVID vaccinations should not be a prerequisite for opening schools.

2. On a C-SPAN segment involving two teachers and two assistant principals, the following was presented: 16 million students in the U.S. are in all-day classes; teachers have difficulty maintaining the focus of students in a virtual environment; they miss the one-on-one contact that allows them to bond with their students; a number of teachers are struggling to teach effectively virtually.

3. I have two grandsons in Frederick County and two who live in the Jacksonville, Florida, area. The two in Florida have been in school since August.

4. We have had private schools in Maryland doing in-person learning since the beginning of the school year without major problems.

5. If a COVID outbreak surfaces in one school, that school can be closed without affecting the learning in all of the other schools.

6. Adults don't think twice about sending their children to school or teaching children during flu season, despite the fact that it causes 40,000 to 60,000 deaths a year.

Bottom line is we need to do what is best for our students and stop waiting for the perfect time to open, because there is no perfect time.

(18) comments

petersamuel

Getting teachers and kids out of their homes and back to school can make them safer from infection. The science shows that crowded household settings are the primary locale for the spread of covid-19. See: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33315116/

Commenting Joel Zinberg MD, a Professor of Surgery at the Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine has written recently: "Students, teachers, and staff are undoubtedly safer in a school environment where masks and social distancing can be mandated and enforced than in unregulated home environments that are high-risk settings for Covid-19 transmission. Putting these low-tech measures in place is neither onerous nor expensive. If we want to avoid further damage to children and their parents, we should not wait for teachers’ unions to acquiesce or for Congress to approve more spending. Schools should reopen as soon as possible so that kids can get back to learning and their parents and school staff can get back to work."

petersamuel

This study from Sweden where schools have been kept open throughout the pandemic shows they have not been transmission locales for the disease: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2026670/

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports a study finding very low levels of transmission at schools compared to elsewhere: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2775875

Another found that Covid-19 incidence among thousands of Wisconsin students and school staff who utilized masks and social distancing and remained in small groups throughout the day was lower than outside in the community: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7004e3.htm/

petersamuel

You guys seem under the impression that teachers and children kept out of school are isolated from covid by magical bubbles. Or are locked away in rooms by themselves. Isn't it more realistic to think that they are forced to mix with family and friends and interact with visitors, and that they face similar risks to everyone else. That would account for the fact that there are now studies showing that teachers and children out of school, are contracting covid at a HIGHER rate than those in school. The reason probably is that in school they wear masks, are disciplined to keep apart, and interact with FEWER adults than they do at home. And it is adults who are the primary carriers of the virus not children. They are safer being with their school buddies than being at home with adults. At home do they wear a mask? Are they 6 feet apart at the dinner table? I'll bet they don't.

MD1756

Your first point is made by the same CDC that struggled to put the truth out there. They published Trump's narrative. They have lost credibility with me especially since Biden is now pushing to get schools open within his first 100 days
. If you want to fully open schools now, why don't we take that thought to its logical conclusion and open everything up? If there is an outbreak close just the one location that seems to be the problem and let everyone else go about their business.
I miss playing canasta and Mah Jong at the senior citizen center. Missing something shouldn't be a consideration in reopening.
Since in a regular flu season only 40,000 to 60,000 people die we should open up even though there have been roughly 480,000 deaths due to the virus? In other words, it seems the letter writer doesn't care about an order of magnitude difference in deaths.
Bottom line is we should wait a few months until many more people are vaccinated and we see how these new strains play out. We can always start year long public education for everyone.

NMresident

The new CDC director appointed by President Biden is the one who stated what I wrote. First of all it is not up to the Federal Government to open schools He could but is not providing the leadership to have all schools opened in his first 100 days, because he doesn't want to offend the teacher unions - welcome to reality Mr. President. The "science shows that opening schools is low risk, just as before COVID children went to school with teachers and other children who may or may not have been vaccinated and we did not wear masks, social distance, and act with unreasoned fear.

Dwasserba

"We have had private schools in Maryland doing in-person learning since the beginning of the school year without major problems." Do you consider closing every few weeks for a week or so, minor? There may be schools that never did, but if/when they do, it doesn't make the news. Affects relatively small numbers. But that would still blunt the point you are trying to make.

Just Wondering

Harry, you were doing so well until you got to #6.

NMresident

My point (I guesss poorly stated) was that currently schools are considered safe to open because they are low risk; the percentage of cases in fully opened schools is very low. Before COVID we still had 40,000 to 60,000 deaths a year with a flu vaccine that could be marginally effective due to variants in the flu after the formulation of the annual vaccine. Few if any teachers refused to teach in person, few if any parents refused to send their children to school, or few if any health care professionals were calling for social distancing, masks, testing, contract tracing etc.

Piedmontgardener

A reasonable letter, then I hit number 6. It's like people have been brainwashed when they recite this objectively dangerous canard.

NMresident

See above.

NewMarketParent

#6 was the absolute worst comparison I think I have ever heard.

Flu has a mortality rate of about .1% whereas COVID is closer to 2% which is more than an order or magnitude larger mortality rate. People in general really don't understand math. Those people should not be on the frontlines pushing for kids to go back to school.

If authorities are so anxious to send kids back to school, they should develop a risk model. The reason that people are willing to send their kids to school with the flu is that they have a general understanding of the risks associated. We also have pretty good drugs where it is very rare for people to die of flu unless they have some sort of other major comorbidities. Otherwise healthy people are dying of COVID or are having major damage done to their heart and lungs. People who used to run everyday now can no longer tackle a set of stairs.

What I struggle with is how people having watched almost half a million of their countrymen die are so dismissive of the risk.

NMresident

As usual statistics can be used to make a point even if they are misleading. You can't use the overall statistic for all age groups to say that schools are unsafe to open. According to deaths reported to the CDC for ages 5-17 the death rate is 0.1% . There have been numerous studies that show schools, especially K-8 are LOW risk. As I have stated I have two grandchildren in the "horrible" state of Florida - one in high school and one in middle school- who have been there 5 days a week since August. The politicians in Maryland do not want to follow the science because they are heavily funded by the teachers union.

cyntiast

Unfortunately reason #6 is why folks are concerned about the re-opening of schools. It is not uncommon for kids pre-COVID to be sent to school ill. That will likely not change now. COVID can also be asymptomatic as well so one can be a carrier without any symptoms.

Kids do need to get back in school. But everything has to be weighed out with the PROS and CONS. Will parents keep their sick or COVID exposed children home?

Greg F

First and foremost, CDC has been heavily influenced by Trump and false narratives concocted by his "alternate" data streams that have been divulged to have been provided to him over Birx and Faucci's findings and recommendations. It was very clear their message was changed to downplay things. With that, I have doubts in the CDC not having been fully purged of those who are doing trump's downplaying. Also, yes, it may be no big happenings AT schools, but who knows how many the asymptomatic kids infected that got sick or died simply because they interacted and then went around in the community unknowing like is the main spreader of the virus. Flu is down because of the COVID restrictions, which show it works, very clearly. Kids are a flu factory when they don't follow rules, and we all know the minute you turn your back, they don't. With the variants now becoming dominant which are more easily spread and potentially more deadly, as well as possibly resistant to vaccines, now is not the time to undo everything sacrificed so far. Historically speaking, we've sacrificed a whole lot more in the past, and now seem to come unglued when the most minor of things happen. We suffered the Great Depression. We suffered through wars where pretty much everything was rationed and we all knew someone who died and made terrible sacrifices. Now? It's the entitlement society wanting to get back to normal at the expense of others rather than coming together as a unified force. That was Trump...dividing everyone an putting out a false narrative that now people want to still follow and getting normalcy back prematurely. My kid won't go back yet. And I would not want her to become infected or drag it back home to someone who has any preconditions or not that could get sick. Outside of my vision, I have no idea what your little germ bombs are capable of doing to follow or not follow guidance, and if what we see of those who STILL can't wear the dammed mask (or not wear it right), there are still too many morons out there who can't do the right thing. Vaccines are in progress and the wait is not much longer. Patience is a virtue.

MD1756

"With that, I have doubts in the CDC not having been fully purged of those who are doing trump's downplaying."

While I agree, the problem is those that do what any administration wants even when they know the data doesn't back up a politicians position. They want to keep their jobs. The CDC lost credibility with me under Trump but they've not gained it back since Biden is pushing to open schools within his first 100 days so of course he is going to push the CDC to make recommendations that support his position. Ultimately they might be correct, but the risks of opening now are high enough and the rewards in my opinion are not, especially since vaccinating a significant portion of the population is not far off and with mutated strains where the vaccine appears to be less effective spreading, now is not the time to relax our vigilance against the virus.

Awteam2021

You had me up until the flu comparison.

Greg F

Yep....still thinks COVID is just another ordinary virus. This is why we shouldn't go back.

NMresident

Sorry see comments above

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