But the offer to make schools safer comes months after data from Europe and the United States indicates that schools aren’t hot beds of infection. “Two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus,” Anya Kamenetz noted for NPR last October.
“The best available data suggests that infection rates in schools simply mirror the prevalence of covid-19 in the surrounding community,” Emily Oster, a Brown University economics professor, wrote in November.
“The default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school or to get them back to school,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commented on November 29. While Fauci has flip-flopped on this issue, he repeatedly returns to the idea that schools should be open to teach children.
Nevertheless, many government schools across the country remain closed or only intermittently open. That’s largely a result of opposition by teachers unions, who raise bogus safety fears. Even now, unions in Minneapolis and St. Paul resist reopening and the union in Chicago plans to strike over the issue.