News & Politics

Betsy DeVos Takes on Dems and COVID-19 Science-Deniers in the Teachers' Union to Reopen Schools

Ted S. Warren

Education Secretary Besty DeVos said she expects schools to be fully operational for the 2020 fall term. It is not the first time she has opposed teachers’ unions and Democrat politicians. However, this time DeVos has science on her side.

While I am a big fan of local control of education and school operation, I have to support Secretary DeVos here. There is so much disinformation about COVID-19 and political maneuvering that state and local governments must understand the accurate data regarding the virus and children. DeVos’ declaration may serve to elevate this conversation as the corporate media will have to cover it.

In an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tuesday night, Secretary DeVos echoed comments made by President Trump earlier in the day. The president expressed his desire to have schools open, noting both the declining death rate and the recovering economy:

Both the president and Secretary DeVos have science on their side. They are also demonstrating more concern for children than the teachers’ unions or Democrat leaders. In her interview, DeVos called out adults who are engaged in fear-mongering and correctly said there was no scientific basis to keep children out of school.

“We are looking at this very seriously, this is a very serious issue across the country,” DeVos said. “Kids have got to continue learning and schools have got to open up. There’s got to be a concerted effort to address the needs of all kids, and adults who are fearmongering and making excuses simply have to stop doing it and turn their attention to what is right for students and for their families.”

She took note of Florida, where the State Education Commissioner has given parents and students a wide range of options, including full-time in-person instruction for the coming school year. She also echoed the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which advocated for schools opening and offered guidance to do so. Their colleagues in the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health agreed, with 1500 members signing a letter stating that continued closures risk “scarring the life chances of a generation of young people.”

The AAP guidance is far less restrictive than what the CDC  put out and is based on what we have learned about the virus and children. However, even the AAP’s recommendations are far more stringent than what other nations are doing based on the available data.

Research shows that children play a small role in the transmission of COVID-19. This was confirmed by a study from the Netherlands Ministry of Health:

Worldwide, relatively few children have been reported with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Data from the Netherlands also confirms the current understanding: that children play a minor role in the spread of the novel coronavirus. The virus is mainly spread between adults and from adult family members to children. The spread of COVID-19 among children or from children to adults is less common.

Based on their contact tracing and research, the agency put out the following guidelines:

  • Children up to and including 12 years of age do not have to keep 1.5 metres apart from each other and from adults. This also applies to childcare and primary education.
  • Young people aged 13 until 18 years old (i.e., 17 years old and younger) do not have to stay 1.5 metres apart from each other. In secondary schools, this applies to all pupils, regardless of their age.
  • In secondary vocational education (MBO) and higher education, all students should stay 1.5 metres apart, regardless of their age.
  • Since adults play a greater role in the spread of the novel coronavirus, teachers need to stay 1.5 metres apart from others as often as possible.

Author Alex Berenson also appeared on Carlson’s show. Berenson has been following the science since the beginning of the pandemic and is also a vocal supporter of schools resuming operations. He told the host it was challenging to find a data point that supported keeping schools closed or the type of pandemic theater the CDC recommends.

Berenson believes a primary concern of school districts in reopening is legal liability. He noted there had been some idiosyncratic deaths among children, 29 according to the CDC, but that COVID-19 will be a target for lawyers. He supported a proposal by GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that included liability protection for schools made before Berenson’s appearance on Carlson’s program.

While he noted that the political environment might impede this legislation, Berenson said the same type of liability was extended to vaccine makers because of rare fatal events in children. He indicated that it would make sense in this case as well.

During the opening segment, Carlson noted how many other countries are opening their schools with the leadership of the medical community. German and Australian medical experts have called for reopening schools. Both countries have done so, Germany with no restrictions. Likewise, France has reopened with no pandemic theater. The host and Berenson reviewed several other countries that opened schools, including Sweden, whose primary schools never closed. To date, there has been no significant outbreak related to transmission in school, even when there are no restrictions.

In June, 56% of parents favored children returning to school full time this fall. If parents understood the very low risk returning to the classroom represented for their children, that percentage would likely rise. Not only for the educational benefits but the social and mental health benefits as well.

Tucker Carlson notes American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s opposition to reopening. He explained that this opposition will prevent some schools from opening. This is both tragic and unnecessary according to the data from around the globe. Same for Democrat politicians who are impeding the process. He asserts, looking at the data, that this can only be attributed to Democrat electoral politics. And as he noted, your children are paying the price.

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