Draconian lockdowns and distance learning

Second closures forces 30 state counties to open school digitally

When COVID-19 first impacted Californian communities in March, citizens, businesses, and institutions did not anticipate a three-month closure. And when the state finally began to reopen this summer, Californians did not see a second lockdown coming. 

On July 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom released new lockdown measures, just as harsh as the first set. Thirty counties, including Sacramento, Yolo, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego are now required to close indoor operations for fitness centers, places of worship, offices for noncritical sectors, hair salons and barbershops, and malls. 

Around the same time, districts across California announced that they would begin the new school year with distance learning. This comes after a statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in support of returning students to classrooms. The statement outlined the benefits that in-person school has on the wellness of adolescents, from the academic instruction to the safety, and reliable nutrition that schools provide. 

The AAP stated, “Evidence from spring 2020 school closures points to negative impacts on learning. Children and adolescents also have been placed at higher risk of morbidity and mortality from physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.” 

Even with an increase in cases as Newsom stated, is the well-being of America’s youth compromisable? Science proves that it doesn’t have to be. For instance, JAMA Network published in its Health Forum,  “None of the 22 European nations that have reopened schools have observed an increase in infections among children, parents, or staff.” Furthermore, “compared with adults, children are 3-fold less susceptible to infection, more likely to be asymptomatic, and less likely to be hospitalized and die.” 

According to a German study, schools did not become hotspots for COVID-19 after reopening. “A study of 2,000 children and teachers at a school in the German state of Saxony has found very few coronavirus antibodies among them, suggesting that schools and young people do not play as big a role in transmission as previously feared.”

Science Daily also released a study on students returning to school, stating, “Children infrequently transmit COVID-19 to each other or to adults and that many schools, provided they follow appropriate social distancing guidelines and take into account rates of transmission in their community, can and should reopen in the fall.” 

While some counties in California have been impacted by COVID-19 at higher rates, those like Sacramento should not stop students from returning to the classroom. To have liberty is to also have responsibility. Students should have the choice to continue their studies online if they and their parents choose. However, remaining entirely online robs students of an escape that many rely on. Increased 

suicide rates and mental health crises prove that lockdowns are bringing more despair.  When this pandemic is through the lockdowns may prove to have done more harm than good.

The decision to reopen schools must be rooted in science and prioritized for the welfare of students.