JIM SHARPE

Punishing schoolkids for a COVID spike caused by grownups

Nov 13, 2020, 12:41 PM | Updated: 12:41 pm
(Getty Images)...
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Arizona — and the country — is seeing such a big spike in coronavirus cases that we are being told to not hold Thanksgiving. And if that weren’t the end-all, many of us parents are now being told that our kids’ schools won’t be holding class anymore — at least inside a classroom.

The school district my girls are in goes back to online-only learning starting Nov. 23.

I sold it to my young ones as an “early start to winter break” so there would be less crying. But there were still tears because our 7-year-old’s second-grade bestie said her mom’s moving her to an in-person school.

I’m not mad at the district – they’re just following the state’s and county’s guidelines. In the district’s announcement, they said they’re closing classrooms because it’s “safer for children and staff.”

But is it? And should schools be the first places to close?

We are seeing more than a thousand new cases in Maricopa County per day but there has only been a total of 231 student cases countywide connected to campus outbreaks during the several weeks that schools have been open.

And when you consider that only nine Arizonans under the age of 20 have died from COVID (during this entire monthslong pandemic) and that teen suicides in Arizona are up more than 16% — one might conclude (or at least form a hypothesis) that children are actually less safe without an open school to attend.

Well … it’s gotta be about staff then, right? Yes, we need to make sure the adults at schools are safe because they’re at much, much greater risk than kids — but there have been only 76 school staff cases reported countywide connected to campus outbreaks in the weeks and weeks since schools reopened.

By the way, I give mucho kudos to the teachers for that low case count. They’re doing amazing teaching — and doing it with one hand tied behind their back keeping up with all the safety protocols.

So if the schools are causing only a tiny sliver of the community spread (if even that much) and children and staff are relatively safe being there, why are we closing them? And why are we closing them before other places — places we know are much more likely to spread the ‘rona?

A new study shows that about 10% of public places account for more than 80% of COVID infections: places like restaurants, bars, gyms and hotels.

I don’t want those places closed either because that’s how many moms and dads feed their kids — but my kids’ school has had ZERO cases since reopening.

Why should my kids be punished for something the grown-ups did?

That’s a lesson I’d rather they not learn – and having them in a classroom will save me from having to teach it.

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Punishing schoolkids for a COVID spike caused by grownups