‘One of the safest places’: CDC Director Does Not Support Closing Schools

At a coronavirus task force briefing Wednesday, the CDC director said schools are the “safest place” for children to be during the pandemic.

Dr.  Robert Redfield of the CDC said, “the truth is, for kids K through 12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school.”

He added, “I will say, back in the spring, there was limited data; today, there’s extensive data that we have — we’ve gathered over the last two to three months — to confirm that K-through- 12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning, and they can do it safely and they can do it responsibly.”

Children are more likely to be exposed to the virus outside of the classroom, research has found.

“The infections that we’ve identified in schools, when they’ve been evaluated, were not acquired in schools.  They were actually acquired in the community and in the household,” Redfield explained.

Vice President Mike Pence agreed with Redfield and reiterated that closing schools would be a mistake.

“The more we’ve learned about this virus, the more it’s simply affirmed that we think our kids belong in the classroom.  We’re absolutely committed to continue to provide resources so our kids, our teachers, our administrators can safely — safely get back to school,” Pence said.

Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, spoke about the negative effects closing schools would have.

“The work that schools and school personnel do daily is valuable beyond any words I can deliver,” McCance-Katz said. “We know that in addition to education, schools provide our children a profound sense of security and stability.  The structure and safety of schools are integral to our children’s whole health.  The role of the school cannot be overstated.”

She emphasized the importance of continuing to wear masks, social distance and wash hands.

“I understand that parents and teachers may feel great anxiety.  That is why we must put into place the safety measures we know work. We must use masks.  We must enforce social distancing.  We must employ creative and innovative ways to limit the number of children and teachers in the building at any given time.  There are tools we have, and we must think through how best to use them to keep our schools open.”

According to Redfield, “It would be counterproductive from my point of view, from a public health point of view, just in containing the epidemic, if there was an emotional response, to say, ‘Let’s close the schools.’”

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