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September 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As schools begin reopening across the United States, debate rages on over the potential risk COVID-19 poses to students, parents, and teachers. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, an ophthalmologist who personally contracted the coronavirus in March, argues this risk is overwhelmingly small.
“I’d open every school, and I would wait and see if anybody gets sick,” Paul said in an interview last month. “If you have a bunch of people get sick, you’ll test in that school. And guess what? You might have to close that school.”
Paul recognizes that COVID-19 is dangerous to some parts of the population, specifically the elderly, but maintains that “it’s not very dangerous for young people … if you’re 25 years old and have a kid that’s 2 and 3, going to church is probably absolutely no risk to you at all.”
“We’ve never thought that everybody in society should wear a mask for people who are on chemotherapy,” he added. “That’s essentially what we’re arguing for now, is that everybody should wear a mask for those who are at risk instead of warning those at risk not to … go to baseball games, not to go to a big church service.”
During cross examination of White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci in May, Paul also expressed concern for the danger that “if we keep kids out of school for another year, what's going to happen is the poor and underprivileged kids who don't have a parent that's able to teach them at home are not going to learn for a full year.”
In August, the above considerations led Paul to introduce the Support Children Having Open Opportunities for Learning (SCHOOL) Act, which would allow federal education funds to follow a child to the public school, private school, or homeschool program of their parents’ choice.
“As the impact of the ongoing pandemic and the government response efforts continue to place parents in situations requiring greater flexibility in balancing working and providing for their families’ critical needs, especially when educating their children at home, my SCHOOL Act grants them that flexibility by empowering them to use their own tax dollars to find the option that best fits their family’s needs and allowing them to reclaim a bit of stability in uncertain times,” the senator declared at the time.
Keeping schools closed is not among the coronavirus prevention or containment measures advocated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In July, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said the “cost to our nation in continuing to keep these schools closed is substantial,” especially the mental and emotional toll of prolonged social isolation. “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID,” he said. “We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”
Similar conclusions have been drawn across the world.
“The risks to children from COVID are very low and the risks of school closures we know are very serious,” said Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the United Kingdom, citing a study of 20,000 students and teachers across 100 UK schools. He says 35 other studies from various other nations reached similar conclusions.
In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) declared that it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” and that – unlike influenza – the “preponderance of evidence indicates that children and adolescents can become infected and are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe disease resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection.”