Public Health Expert Blasts School Closures… ‘We Know How to Keep Them Safe’

Zorro Stock Images /
Zorro Stock Images /

If you’re looking for information from a public health expert to substantiate your belief that schools should not have to close in the midst of this pandemic, this interview on Fox News Sunday should help.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, spoke with Fox News anchor Mike Emanuel recently. He was there to discuss the issues relating to the spread of COVID-19. During the interview, Emanuel spoke about the hundreds of schools that are once again closing their doors because of the rise in coronavirus cases. He said that more than 800 schools across the U.S. unexpectedly closed this past week, according to Burbio. And Emanuel noted that more than 500 schools will be closed in the first week of January.

The Fox News anchor asked Jha if the country was moving toward full-scale remote learning and what he thought about the issue. He asked that as a public health matter, who is right in this debate, close versus stay open?

Jha revealed that he believed what was happening was really unfortunate. He said, “Here we are almost two years into the pandemic. We know how to keep schools open. We know how to keep them safe. This really shouldn’t even be on the table, and I’m disappointed to see this is happening.”

The Dean of Brown University continued to say that children actually attending school is best for them in terms of both education and mental health. He believes that we should keep schools open, and we can keep schools open.

Emanuel then reiterated the other health concerns that come from shutting down public schools. He talked about the mental, emotional, physical, and social health factors among school-age children.

Jha agreed and said that many of his colleagues have said that schools should be the absolute last place to close and the first place to open. He did concede that there could be staff shortages that might cause some schools to have to close.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released data up to December 22nd. They indicate that 668 people aged 0-17 have died with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. That means that only 0.08% of all deaths in the United States attributed to the virus are in that age category.

According to Bloomberg’s COVID-10 vaccine tracker, as of this past weekend, 61.7% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19; and 19.4% have gotten a booster shot.

Those statistics put America below several other countries that have higher vaccination rates. The United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, Chile, and France are all higher.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been more than 52 million cases of COVID-19 in America, according to Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. There have been 816,554 deaths.

Anya Kamenetz, with National Public Radio, wrote that closures from COVID-19 have affected 1.6 billion children worldwide. She said that now that we are two years into the pandemic, experts show the economic costs are in the trillions and the social costs are incalculable.

Elissa Nadworny hosted a show on NPR that began with the number of $17 trillion. They said that is how much the pandemic may cost children around the world in terms of lost lifetime earning. This number comes from a new report by the United Nations and the World Bank.

The show ended with this statement: “Our stance together with other partners has been you cannot open supermarkets and leave the schools closed.”