When it comes to COVID, are we really following the science?
It’s starting to seem to me that instead we’re just moving the goalposts. When a metric is reached, we create a new target, a new standard, thereby keeping us in a perpetual state of emergency.
First, we were told it was about flattening the curve. We did that. Then we were told that if test positivity rates remained under 5% schools could reopen. Well, in Denver, test positivity rates haven’t been above 5% since June 1, yet DPS has announced remote learning until at least mid-October.
What aren’t we willing to sacrifice for COVID? Seems everything is fair game: people’s jobs; entire industries; children’s educations; perhaps most ironically, our own health, as excess deaths have risen 22% according to the Denver Post.
The same sacrifice is demanded overseas. Shortfalls in humanitarian aid means more children facing starvation, and diversion of medical resources toward COVID means children not receiving medical treatment.
What troubles me deeply is children’s education. Aside from family life, education is the most determining factor in predicting a child’s success. Disparities already exist, and remote learning widens them. Children from homes with better resources, whether financial, technological or familial, will probably do fine with remote learning.
But what about those with two parents working? Or from single parent homes? Or without high-speed internet? If one of DPS’ stated goals is equity, how can it continue to shutter schools when it is clear that remote learning deepens the inequities?
The 2019 Colorado Measures of Academic Success report showed that fewer than half (42.8%) of Denver students are meeting or exceeding expectations on literacy. For math, it’s worse, at less than a third (32.7%). DPS students are clearly struggling to attain basic skills. Who imagines that taking them out of the classroom for five months will help ? Especially when considering that according to a Denver Post survey, 35% of Colorado children did not participate in any remote learning last spring?
Yes, some teachers are high-risk; accommodation should be found for those unable to conduct in-person teaching. But why are we keeping close to 100,000 children at home when the science overwhelmingly shows that children do not get sick from COVID?
Back in May, I heard a British politician say: “If you create a target and aim for it at the exclusion of everything else you will achieve it.” As a society, we cannot afford to exclude everything but COVID, yet it seems that’s what we’re doing.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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