School in a Time of COVID
Aug 17, 2021. | By Will Hurd
What if the next coronavirus was actually designed in a lab to affect a specific population? The field of bioengineering has evolved to a point where this could become a reality. COVID-19 is far from the last pandemic the world is going to have to reckon with, whether naturally occurring throughout the world, or being engineered by people with bad intentions.
Our difficulties in dealing with the Delta variant are proving that we aren’t fully prepared for the next deadly virus. The last twenty months have shown that:
- The scientific community can work miracles in producing vaccines, even though more people need to receive them.
- The medical community has been brilliant in administering these life-saving measures, as well as improving the way they treat people who become ill
- Our testing infrastructure around the country has improved significantly.
While we have significantly improved our ability to identify and isolate people with COVID-19 symptoms, we need the ability to control asymptomatic spread – transmission from infected people who do not have symptoms.
When you change your attitude, you change your behavior. When your behavior changes, so do your results.
With September almost upon us, many parents, teachers, school administrators, and students are worried about how the Delta variant of COVID-19 is going to impact schools across the country as they begin to open. The upcoming school year could be an opportunity to finally get beyond this dreadful pandemic once and for all, but it will require an attitude adjustment.
When you change your attitude, you change your behavior. When your behavior changes, so do your results. Every American wants different results after these last twenty months. To start, we all need to recognize two things:
- Everyone’s health is connected
- Regardless of political persuasion, we have the same goal - get our kids back into the classroom in a safe environment so that they can learn.
When we recognize this common goal, we can start looking at ways to do things a little differently.
Our teachers and schools are already being asked to do so much, but the question we should be asking is not whether masks work (ask the 200 people who were wearing masks when they came in contact with the man visiting Dallas who had Monkeypox ***Note: This link has disturbing images) or whether vaccines are safe (yes, vaccines have risks, but COVID carries risks too. All available data indicate that the risks of getting COVID are significantly worse than adverse vaccine reactions). The real question is, with the permission of parents, how are we doing diagnostic testing in schools to prevent asymptomatic spread? Several studies have concluded that asymptomatic spread could be responsible for upwards of 50% of COVID-19 cases. Getting a handle on asymptomatic spread will give families and communities:
- A realistic picture of the true prevalence of COVID in their area,
- An opportunity to prevent cases from getting out of control
- An increased confidence of returning to in-person learning.
This is going to be far from easy, but hundreds of millions of dollars have already been set aside by the federal government to do this. However, if we make this investment in our real future – our children – then we can be prepared for the next pandemic. If we are prepared for the next pandemic, then we can stop it before it begins.
If we are prepared for the next pandemic, then we can stop it before it begins.
This is just one of the hard public policy issues we should be debating. If we are unable to resolve the debate on how to empower our fellow Americans to do what’s best for their children, then we can forget trying to achieve the more complicated things that are going to keep this century the American Century.
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