Written by Justin Culetu
San Diego Unified School District leaders recently announced their intentions to reopen schools for in-person learning on January 4. While this seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel for eager parents and students to finally return to some form of normalcy in their lives, the teachers’ union put a halt to that plan by sending an email on the same day of the announcement that they may not allow the reopening.
The email made it clear that future reopening plans will not be carried out without the approval of the union members and dates will not be accepted without scientific and educator input. With all five of the SDUSD Board members being supported by the teachers’ union, it is likely that the district will continue its history of not questioning union demands.
Speaking of scientific input, a study from Brown University reports that schools are not major super spreaders of COVID-19. The data show that the percentage of students with confirmed cases from all 50 states from October 12 to October 25 had a 0.087% case rate reported out of 4,860 responses. Similarly, the percentage of staff members with confirmed cases in the same time frame was 0.19% out of 5,474 responses.
When looking at the numbers of cases at schools, one has to consider the student and staff population of the school. If a number of cases are reported without looking at the overall size of the school, then the information given cannot be determined in terms of the severity of the outbreak.
The current argument against the reopening of schools is that these numbers are not zero. But what this argument fails to consider is that children negatively affected by the absence of in-person learning will continue to be set back for as long as the zero cases approach holds. While remote attendance is available through virtual classes, the attendance and performance levels have not been promising.
While Democrat governors and public officials have declared their “pro-science” approach to the pandemic, they fail to acknowledge the science that would move the country forward in the reopening process. And with the scientific data cited above, the San Diego Unified leaders would need to consider if they are fighting for the benefit of the children, whose well-being has been affected enormously during the pandemic, or for the benefit of the teachers’ union, which seems to have no problem putting themselves over the children.