Back to School or not?

This article on Covid 19 was written by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport and is published here with permission. Views expressed by contributors are their own.pundit

Supposing you had a desperate health condition and had an urgent need for an operation to remediate that condition. You were advised that two experts existed who could perform the operation with a quick recovery and no side effects. These experts came with the highest credentials and the highest recommendations. This inspires you with confidence and you decide to have the experts perform the operation.

Well. The operation is screwed up. You have developed all sorts of side effects due to the operation and your recovery will take many months. There is no guarantee that you will ever fully recover. The experts claim that they did their best.

Meanwhile, you develop another health problem that is in the particular realm of the two experts and you will need an operation. Do you go back to them?

Consider then, if you will, Pence’s and Birx’s actions made in June concerning the reopening of states. And consider where those states find themselves today.

I am reminded of the immortal words of Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you.”

I no longer give any credence to the statements of Birx, Pence, the coronavirus task force or the CDC, which has been politicized and is now yet another organ of the Trump propaganda machine.

The latest pronouncements of this gang of “experts” state that we should open our schools. NOW.

So we find ourselves receiving recommendations from the same group that botched the original response and made the pandemic much worse.

The opening of schools requires science based fact, not pie-in-the-sky wishes. There are many unanswered questions. Let’s look at two obvious ones.

If children go back to school, will they catch Covid-19?

Data are mixed. One Australian study found that 18 people (9 students, 9 staff) with confirmed cases of the disease were in contact with about 750 individuals in a normal, non-socially distanced school environment and only two children became infected. Another study in Ireland had similar results. On the other hand, there have been cases of schools that suffered significant outbreaks, including in Israel and Sweden.

Will teachers and staff be safe from COVID-19?

There will be risk, depending on the mitigation measures undertaken. Today, A sizable percentage of teachers and staff members say that they do not feel safe, and already some are saying they will simply refuse to return to school.

The virus was originally considered to be a respiratory disease, but is is now considered to also indiscriminately attack the vascular system. Our knowledge of the virus increases daily, but there is so much that we don’t know. Hence, risk is still very high.

The school question is framed as “Should we open our schools?” This is the wrong question.

The correct question is, “How much risk do we wish to assume when we open our schools?”

Schools should remain closed until we can answer that question using science based facts to make a rational and reasonable decision. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of our recent past using the lives of our children as gambling chips.

Arthur Ahrens (Richelieu/D’Artagnan/Athos/Porthos/Aramis)
Branchport, NY 7/1/2020

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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7 Responses to Back to School or not?

  1. garymccaslin says:

    Arthur Ahrens is right on the money. Luckily for everyone, Major League Baseball is providing a little controlled experiment showing how difficult it is to get folks together and NOT spread the virus. Personally, I do not see schools opening safely for at least six months.


  2. Carol says:

    Thank you for your excellent article, Arthur. I fully agree with you, and I also do not trust any information coming from Trump’s COVID-19 team. If I had children, I would not allow them to go to school, given the information we have at this time.


  3. whungerford says:

    An article in Monday’s Elmira “Star-Gazette” by Elizabeth Weise reports that CDC is now minimizing concern about Covid-19 spreading: “People who have had mild to moderate COVID-19 can come out of isolation after 10 days and don’t need to be retested before going back to work…” We see how our institutions are damaged when political interference is suspected. Should school boards be guided by this? Will state governments and local school boards be trusted to make good decisions in the current political climate?


  4. Richard S says:

    Cornell and Ithaca College students have begun to return to town and classes will resume this Fall. Tompkins county Covid-19 rates are currently quite low. With an influx of about 28,000 students, I can’t believe rates will remain low. My wife teaches elementary students and has decided that if schools reopen, she will not return, which will of course have a significant impact on our income. Our teen will home-school.


  5. whungerford says:

    Richard S, thank you for your comment. I hope infection rates in Ithaca do remain low. My granddaughter is a freshman student at Purdue U. where classes are expected to resume. I do hope it goes well there too.


  6. Carol says:

    If the NBA ND MLB can’t keep their small number of players and staff healthy, how will Cornell and Ithaca College be able to contain the spread of the virus? They will be bringing a large known superspreader age group (18-30) to our county, the majority of whom will live off campus, and thus their behavior cannot be controlled, despite making them sign a “behavioral compact.” One needs only to walk around Ithaca to see the noncompliance of the students who are already here.


  7. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Covid-19 Data Will Once Again Be Collected by CDC, in Policy Reversal
    Hospitals will return to reporting new cases to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump administration says, after shift to Health and Human Services led to delays and data problems


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