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Johns Hopkins expert says new CDC school reopening plan will harm kids

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “overly burdensome” guidelines on returning to school are “dismissive” of science, which shows “more kids die when schools are closed,” according to a Johns Hopkins University expert.

Dr. Marty Makary penned a blistering op-ed for Fox News panning the agency’s new guidance calling for a phased reopening of K-12 schools, which is based on community transmission rates.

“Defying science, the guidelines create testing and distancing requirements so extreme it makes consistent in-person learning unachievable for the vast majority of schools in America today,” Makary wrote. “For instance, if a community has a high rate of COVID transmission, the CDC says students and teachers will need to be tested weekly. That’s not easy to set up for many school systems.”

He said the guidelines were “dismissive” of data showing the negative consequences that school closures have had on youth — including higher rates of suicide and substance abuse and an increasing hunger crisis as kids go without meals normally provided at school.

Kris Reddout, a 5th grade teacher, attends a Utah Safe Schools Mask-In urging the governor's leadership in school reopening during a rally Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Kris Reddout, a fifth-grade teacher, attends a mask-in urging the governor’s leadership in school reopening during a rally in Salt Lake City.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

“These problems may not be evident to wealthy autocrats working remotely in mansions,” Makary said. “But in places like inner-city Baltimore, closed schools can have brutal health consequences.”

He added, “If we are really listening to the science, it tells us that more kids die when schools are closed than when they are open.”

Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins, also underscored the “hypocrisy problem” facing the CDC — that director Rochelle Walensky heralded data showing low transmission rates within schools just before the agency made reopening contingent on community transmission rates.


“Many believe what is really happening is that the Biden administration is outwardly calling for schools to be open but behind the scenes accommodating teachers’ unions by subtly stalling on implementing a re-opening,” Makary wrote.

He did, however, note a few points the CDC did get “right,” including instructing kids to wash their hands and wear masks in school and having well-ventilated spaces.

“I strongly encourage school board members, parents and local government leaders to find a path to re-opening quickly with universal masking, 3-foot distancing and good ventilation,” Makary said.

“Those precautions have kept pilots, flight attendants and airline passengers safe a million times over despite a smaller space, a higher density of people congregating together, no testing requirements, and a higher-risk population than kids.”

The White House plans to reopen 50 percent of the nation’s schools for as little as one day a week — despite President Biden vowing to “getting a majority of K-8 schools safely open” within his first 100 days in office.



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