Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the Biden administration during a press conference this week, warning that kids will “not go back in [this] school year” under the Biden administration’s current plans and “may not even go back in the fall.”
DeSantis specifically highlighted the newly released CDC guidelines for reopening schools. The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration’s new guidelines effectively would do away with full in-person learning for the foreseeable future, even as cases drop around the country, because to have full in-person learning the rates of community transmission would need to be “quite low,” which The Post notes does not exist almost anywhere in the U.S.
“Florida schools are open for in person instruction, every single parent in this state has a right to send their kid to in person instruction,” DeSantis said during a press conference this week. “We have done it the right way, we are not going to turn back. What the CDC put out five o’clock on a Friday afternoon, I wonder why they would do it then, was quite frankly, a disgrace. It would require if you actually followed that, closing 90% of schools in the United States.”
“We have been open, they will remain open and we are not turning back,” DeSantis continued. “We’ve been open the whole time since August. We had kids doing camps and athletics and all that over the summer. And we’ve been in person as much as anybody in the country. And yet, we’re 34 out of 50 states and DC for COVID-19 cases on a per capita basis for children. Thirty-three states have more cases per capita than than Florida, for children per capita. And many of those don’t have a lot of in person instruction in school. And so there is no evidence to suggest that kids should do anything else other than be in school. This has been clear for months and months and months, we followed the data when we worked to get the parents the option to send the kids back because we had looked at what happened in Europe, places like Sweden and all these other places.”
“And it does not require another 100 billion dollars,” DeSantis continued. “The school reopening plan that makes the most sense, if you want to open schools, open them, open the door, let them come in and let them learn. And the only reason that that is not happening across this country like it is in Florida, like it is in a handful of other states, it’s one reason and one reason only, because the Democratic Party puts the interests of education unions and special interests ahead of the well being of our children and our families. These kids have been out of school in parts of this country for almost a year. And if you follow that CDC guidance, they will not go back in this this school year and they may not even go back in the fall. That is a disgrace. That is not science. That is putting politics ahead of what’s right for kids. That is putting politics and special interests ahead of what the evidence and observed experience says.”
Public health experts Joseph G. Allen and Helen Jenkins wrote in The Washington Post:
The new report on schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be a wake-up call to parents everywhere: If they’re not back already, your kids are not going back to school full-time this year.
The report adds new and unnecessary demands that will ultimately keep millions of kids out of school. In particular, there are two items that will act as barriers: the use of community-spread metrics to determine whether schools should open, and the requirement of routine screening testing. …
The science is clear: Kids — especially young children — can get and transmit covid-19, but they are less likely to do so than adults. Kids can die from the disease, but the risk of that happening is one in a million; they are about 10 times as likely to die by suicide. Teachers also have lower risk than other occupations and can be kept safe through adherence to universal precautions.
The science is also clear that keeping children out of school is doing real harm: Loss in literacy progress. An exploding mental health crisis. Billions of missed meals. Women dropping out of the workforce. Hundreds of thousands of kids missing school. The effects are compounding daily.
Even CNN’s Jake Tapper grilled CDC Director Rochelle Walensky this week, saying that he had “high hopes that schools would be able to resume in person learning, because so many scientists and health officials, including you and Dr. Fauci and others, had been talking about the science supports opening the schools as much as possible.”
“I know that a lot of teachers are very concerned, and I know the teachers unions have been pushing back on this,” he continued. “But it sounds to me like you’re asking for 100 percent mask compliance and a number of measures that we’re never going to be able to achieve. And that makes me feel like, boy, I don’t know if the schools are ever going to open until everybody’s vaccinated.”