John Locke Update / Research Brief

Judge Covid decides: Going back to school

posted on in COVID-19 Series, Education, Education (PreK-12)
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Judge Covid, should we send kids back to school?
MOST IMPORTANT

 

Oh, I agree!
SCHOOLS ARE VITAL TO KIDS’ HEALTH
THE MOST IMPORTANT OPENING IS CLASSROOM DOORS

 

I’m glad. So many health experts and even the American Academy of Pediatrics stress how important and healthy going to school is to kids.
MUCH RISK IN NOT GOING BACK TO IN-PERSON SCHOOL

 

Absolutely.
THERE ARE THREE OPTIONS

 

Great! Choice is good. People like choice, especially when it comes to their kids’ education.
NOT THAT KIND OF CHOICE

 

What’s wrong with that kind of choice?
SCHOOL CHOICE IS UNBELIEVABLY DANGEROUS
DO YOU HATE CHILDREN

 

Far from it, your Horror. What kind of choice, then?
SCHOOL BOARDS MUST CHOOSE

 

Choose what?
A. FULL SCHOOL WITH SOCIAL DISTANCE AND HYGIENE
B. ONE-THIRD SCHOOL WITH FACE COVERING, SOCIAL DISTANCE, HYGIENE, NO GROUP ACTIVITIES, DAILY HEALTH CHECKS AT THE DOOR, KIDS STAY HOME TWO OUT OF THREE WEEKS OR

C. ONLINE SCHOOL ONLY

 

Huh? Only one of those choices gets kids back in school with any consistency.
SCHOOLS ARE VITAL TO KIDS’ HEALTH
THEY PROVIDE MORE THAN JUST ACADEMICS

 

Such as?
MENTAL HEALTH, EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING, SOCIAL WELL-BEING
SCIENCE SHOWS MISSING SCHOOL IS HARMFUL
FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST HUNGER, ABUSE, HOMELESSNESS

 

First line of defense is strong language. By all means, then, let’s get kids back in school!
NOT MUCH RISK FROM IN-PERSON SCHOOL
PEDIATRICIANS AND HEALTH EXPERTS AGREE

 

Yes.
SCHOOLS ARE LOW-RISK SETTINGS FOR SPREADING VIRUS
NOT MUCH RISK AT ALL

 

Right. Full-time, in-person school. It’s clearly supported by science and data, it’s the choice by experts on children’s health, and it’s vital to children for so many reasons outside of learning their ABCs. Finally, a clear and obvious —
I’VE CHANGED MY MIND

 

Oh, please, not this again.
HOLD ON
I WILL ANNOUNCE MY CHANGE OF MIND LATER
GIVE ME TWO WEEKS

 

What? Why not just spit it out now?
I’M WAITING FOR SOMETHING

 

OK, OK, whatever it could be, as long as our first priority is the kids.
SCHOOLS ARE VITAL TO KIDS’ HEALTH
MOST IMPORTANT OPENING IS CLASSROOM DOORS

 

Yes, we absolutely have to get kids back in school. Leaving them home is bad for their health, and it also widens the gap between underprivileged kids and those whose parents can work from home and help them with online classes. Acting rashly and leaving them behind is very risky, and —
I DECIDE WHAT IS RISKY

 

Sorry, your Horror. I’m just very passionate about kids and how education can break down the barriers of inequity and help them live better lives than otherwise.
NO FULL-SCHOOL OPTION

 

Wait, what?
MY CHANGE OF MIND
NOW I CAN TELL YOU
NO FULL-SCHOOL OPTION

 

Why not? It’s the most sensible, least expensive, most scientifically based option out there!
COVID LAW IS INSCRUTABLE
UNLESS YOU ARE AN EXPERT

 

What about social distance and hygiene?
ONE-THIRD SCHOOL IS SAFER
FULL SCHOOL WITH SOCIAL DISTANCE AND HYGIENE IS UNSAFE

 

But
ONE WEEK ON, TWO WEEKS OFF
SAFE AND HEALTHY

 

You just said there was not much risk from in-person instruction. I don’t understand.
NOT MUCH RISK FROM IN-PERSON SCHOOL
PEDIATRICIANS AND HEALTH EXPERTS AGREE
NOT MUCH RISK CONTAINS RISK
RISK IS RISKY

 

Oh come on. Everything contains some risk. There’s a slight risk every time a kid rides the bus —
BUSES ARE RISKY
ONE-THIRD BUSES ARE SAFE

 

So wait, one-third buses to take kids to one-third schools, health screenings at the door, no group activities, social distance, and hygiene … am I missing anything?
FACE COVERINGS EVERYWHERE

 

Oh, right, face coverings. Are we still telling people anything is safe, even dish towels?
LIVES DEPEND ON FACE DISH TOWELS
SCHOOLS MUST GIVE FIVE FACE COVERINGS PER KID

 

All schools? Because kids under 11 don’t need face coverings for camp or even day care, unless you changed your mind.
FACE DISH TOWELS FOR ANYONE UNDER 11 YEARS OLD IS UNSAFE

 

Right, well at least there is some consistency.
I’VE CHANGED MY MIND

 

Here it comes.
FACE DISH TOWELS FOR ANYONE UNDER 11 YEARS OLD IS UNSAFE
EXCEPT AT ONE-THIRD SCHOOLS
KIDS WITHOUT FACE COVERINGS ARE UNSAFE

 

But how can schools monitor kids wearing face coverings? Especially young kids prone to fidget.
YOUNG KIDS WITHOUT FACE COVERINGS ARE UNSAFE
WHEN AT ONE-THIRD SCHOOLS

 

Really?
KIDS CAN TAKE SHORT BREAKS FROM FACE COVERINGS
THE VIRUS RESPECTS A FACE COVERING BREAK
OPEN A WINDOW OR SOMETHING

 

This all seems hopelessly complicated. How can schools handle all these extra measures, shifting schedules, doing daily screenings, and all the extra hygienic measures?
OH AND HIRE MORE ON-SITE SOCIAL WORKERS
THEY WILL ENCOURAGE KIDS TO AVOID COVID MEDIA SCARES

 

You want to keep kids from distressing news reports on the virus?
COVID MEDIA SCARES ARE MEANT FOR ADULTS
COVID MEDIA SCARES FOR KIDS ARE UNSAFE
PANICKING ADULTS INTO COMPLIANCE IS SAFE AND EFFECTIVE

 

Interesting. But setting the schools aside, how can families handle all this disruption? One week on, two weeks off? People have to be able to work.
ONE-THIRD SCHOOLS ARE SAFE FOR FAMILIES

 

What do students do for two-thirds of the time?
OOH ONLINE SCHOOLING
SAFE AND EFFECTIVE

 

But online schooling is a serious hardship for some families. It’s really hard for disadvantaged kids. You specifically mentioned some. What about kids in abusive homes? Kids who are homeless or have unstable housing situations? Kids who sometimes only get food when they’re in school? And what about kids who don’t have laptops, tablets, dependable wifi, or any wifi?
SCHOOLS ARE VITAL TO IMPOVERISHED KIDS’ HEALTH
MOST IMPORTANT OPENING IS CLASSROOM DOORS
ONE-THIRD OF THE TIME OR COMPLETELY ONLINE

 

Wow. Do you hate children?
DO YOU WANT TO BE HELD IN CONTEMPT OF COVID COURT

 

No, your Horror, I just want what’s best for kids and families.
KIDS NEED TO BE IN SCHOOLS
ONE-THIRD SCHOOLS OR ONLINE
SCHOOL BOARDS SHOULD CHOOSE ONLINE SCHOOLS

 

Why should they do that?
SCHOOLS ARE RISKY

 

What makes them risky? Kids are the absolute lowest-risk population.
RISK IS RISKY
YOU COULD CATCH COOVIES

 

But the science —
KIDS ARE IN FAMILIES
BEING IN A FAMILY IS RISKY
KIDS CAN CARRY THE VIRUS TO GRANDMA

 

Don’t kids in full-capacity day care facilities have families?
FULL DAY CARES ARE SAFE
IF ADULTS WEAR FACE DISH TOWELS AND SOCIAL DISTANCE
GRANDKIDS IN FULL DAY CARES ARE SAFE

 

But not grandkids in full schools.
GRANDKIDS IN FULL SCHOOLS ARE DANGEROUS

 

Even with face coverings and social distancing?
GRANDKIDS IN ONE-THIRD SCHOOLS WITH FACE COVERINGS AND SOCIAL DISTANCE AND ENTRANCE HEALTH CHECKS AND NO GROUPS ARE SAFE

 

I still don’t understand the difference.
COVID LAW IN INSCRUTABLE
UNLESS YOU ARE AN EXPERT

 

Fine, but can you explain —
SCHOOL BOARDS MUST CHOOSE ONLINE SCHOOLS INSTEAD
VERY SAFE AND EFFECTIVE

 

So wait — you actually don’t want kids in school at all?
SCHOOL BOARDS MUST CHANGE THEIR MINDS

 

Which is why you’re making it impossible for them to choose in-person schools.
YOU CAN FIX ACADEMICS BUT YOU CANNOT FIX THE DEAD

 

But why repeat how it’s vitally important for kids to be in school and then make it where kids can’t be in school?
WE CAN HAVE BOTH SCHOOLS AND SAFETY
BY NOT HAVING SCHOOLS
TEACHERS COULD CATCH COOVIES

 

Is this about the teachers? Or maybe the teachers’ union?
TEACHERS DESIRE TO RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM

 

That’s not quite what I asked.
SCHOOLS WILL BE SAFE FOR TEACHERS
AS SOON AS THE VIRUS NUMBERS GO DOWN A BIT
LIKE THEY WERE BEFORE MARCH 16

 

March 16? How reasonable is that? It was at the very beginning. There were only 33 known cases and no hospitalizations or deaths then.
SAFE AND EFFECTIVE

 

This sounds like another convenient, made-up, self-serving standard, with no science behind it at all.
RISK IS RISKY

 

At some point we are going to have to tackle this overinflation of virus risk head-on and start talking about all the other risks we’re creating for society without stopping to think.
TACKLING IS RISKY
NO SCHOOL SPORTS

 

Previous Judge Covid rulings can be found here:

 

 

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As Director of Regulatory Studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jon gets into the weeds in all kinds of policy areas, including electricity, occupational licensing, hydraulic… ...

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