One parent outlines his (and his friends’) choices for children this fall

3rd UPDATE: July 13: 11:45 p.m. EDT: Two people have suggested that the 3.02 figure also is inaccurate. Quoting what one person wrote: .0016% is the infection-to-death-rate, meaning how many of those who are infected are expected to die. The writer assumes all 189,000 children in his district will be infected which is completely ridiculous. The average rate of infection for children around the world is 2%. So assuming 2% of this population were infected, one would estimate .06 deaths.

The conversation has been consumed by the potential number of deaths, and that reflects the national mood, not just what’s been written here.. Other important questions are not getting the attention they deserve, and some of these are separate from the original post.

  1. What are the implications for parents/guardians and their work schedules if the health conditions in a particular county deteriorate and therefore require online instruction? Will employers who might have been patient with relaxed work rules a couple months ago continue to be so in the fall?
  2. What role might charter schools play in educating kids this fall? (Or this entire academic year?) Should they play any?
  3. What happens if a sizable number of teachers in any one school district (and by extension across the country) abandon the profession because of their fears of contracting (and perhaps passing on) coronavirus?
  4. Is the “we need to be cautious” crowd being mocked? Why?
  5. Is “we have little to worry about? crowd being mocked? Why?
  6. How do we ensure that children with underlying health conditions and who are told to stay home by their doctors retain some semblance of a typical school experience if so many of his/her friends are in the school building each day?
  7. Do we know with certainty that one reason the number of cases in America’s youth is as low as it is is because that population was isolated at almost the same time cases in the U.S. began to skyrocket?
  8. There’s been much talk about the flu, and yet all of us agree that the quarantine period for coronavirus is longer than the typical amount of days any one kid would miss if he/she caught the flu. How will that affect a child’s ability to keep up in school?
  9. Are there any data that indicate whether substitute teachers would accept a short-term (say 2 weeks) assignment in a room where the teacher is out because of coronavirus?
  10. Who — political figures, scientists, parents, doctors, etc. — will influence the decisions made by school superintendents in the coming weeks as they decide whether to re-open their buildings?
  11. Has there been a series of detailed conversations with staff about re-opening?
  12. What do we do with school districts that lack the resources to offer either a fully online or hybrid teaching program?
  13. What do the data from the spring tell us about how well and how much students learned after they were sent home?
  14. How much of the typical school experience — everything from extracurricular activities to recess — will be eliminated for part/all of the year?
  15. Why should any parental choice about how their child learns this school year be questioned by anyone else?

Yes, the numbers can tell a story, and they need to be accurate. But the factors that weigh on the minds of many parents (and teachers) about what should happen with America’s K-12 schools in a few weeks go well beyond 302 or 3 or .06.

2nd UPDATE: July 13, 11:05 p.m. EDT: FWIW: Los Angeles and San Diego counties announced late today that their school year will begin with online teaching. (Here’s a link with details.)

UPDATED: July 13, 6:30 p.m. EDT: Multiple people have asked me to discuss a data point mentioned in this post. The figure 189,000 x .0016 = roughly 302.

Yes, 189,000 x .0016 = roughly 302, but 189,000 x .0016% = roughly 3. This link affirms it should be expressed as a percentage: https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1327.

Three, it is. (And an additional thank you to those who have pointed out that other numbers separate from the original post needed to be scrutinized.)

In addition, as expected, the post is generating plenty of feelings, positive and negative. Keep the comments coming (and, again, I appreciate the people who caught the math problem and politely, but firmly, identified where the confusion was; the link to what appears to be the original source was vital). However, remember, our kids’ normal rite of passage into their teenage years and then into adulthood is being disrupted. That’s true no matter your opinion about coronavirus and no matter what we choose to do with their schooling this year. (Presuming, of course, that the health/safety situation doesn’t deteriorate to the point that we must keep them home, no matter our preferences.) Let’s acknowledge that Person A doesn’t necessarily have to agree with Person B, but should respect what that person says.

Finally, no, I’m not friends or in any way acquainted with the author of this post. I found his message to be a powerful one. If anyone wants to write a counterargument to what he’s suggesting, please send it my way. I’ll post it. The more ideas we have, the better.

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ORIGINAL POST: The post you see below was not written by me. It was written by a man whom I don’t know and who lives in Fairfax County, VA. I did contact him, and he has allowed me to post his words here.

I’m choosing not to name him, though he admitted to me that he was indifferent to whether I should. I also have made no changes to what he wrote; his message is powerful, and it reflects what many parents across the country are thinking as they consider what to do this fall should the school that educates their child(ren) open.

FCPS refers to Fairfax County Public Schools.

With all of that as the set up, the post…

To our fellow FCPS families, this is it gang, 5 days until the 2 days in school vs. 100% virtual decision. Let’s talk it out, in my traditional mammoth TL/DR form.

Like all of you, I’ve seen my feed become a flood of anxiety and faux expertise. You’ll get no presumption of expertise here. This is how I am looking at and considering this issue and the positions people have taken in my feed and in the hundred or so FCPS discussion groups that have popped up. The lead comments in quotes are taken directly from my feed and those boards. Sometimes I try to rationalize them. Sometimes I’m just punching back at the void.

Full disclosure, we initially chose the 2 days option and are now having serious reservations. As I consider the positions and arguments I see in my feed, these are where my mind goes. Of note, when I started working on this piece at 12:19 PM today the COVID death tally in the United States stood at 133,420.

“My kids want to go back to school.”

I challenge that position. I believe what the kids desire is more abstract. I believe what they want is a return to normalcy. They want their idea of yesterday. And yesterday isn’t on the menu.

“I want my child in school so they can socialize.”

This was the principle reason for our 2 days decision. As I think more on it though, what do we think ‘social’ will look like? There aren’t going to be any lunch table groups, any lockers, any recess games, any study halls, any sitting next to friends, any talking to people in the hallway, any dances. All of that is off the menu. So, when we say that we want the kids to benefit from the social experience, what are we deluding ourselves into thinking in-building socialization will actually look like in the Fall?

“My kid is going to be left behind.”

Left behind who? The entire country is grappling with the same issue, leaving all children in the same quagmire. Who exactly would they be behind? I believe the rhetorical answer to that is “They’ll be behind where they should be,” to which I’ll counter that “where they should be” is a fictional goal post that we as a society have taken as gospel because it maps to standardized tests which are used to grade schools and counties as they chase funding.

“Classrooms are safe.”

At the current distancing guidelines from FCPS middle and high schools would have no more than 12 people (teachers + students) in a classroom (I acknowledge this number may change as FCPS considers the Commonwealth’s 3 ft with a mask vs. 6 ft position, noting that FCPS is all mask regardless of the distance). For the purpose of this discussion we’ll say classes run 45 minutes.

I posed the following question to 40 people today, representing professional and management roles in corporations, government agencies, and military commands: “Would your company or command have a 12 person, 45 minute meeting in a conference room?”

100% of them said no, they would not. These are some of their answers:

“No. Until further notice we are on Zoom.”
“(Our company) doesn’t allow us in (company space).”
“Oh hell no.”
“No absolutely not.”
“Is there a percentage lower than zero?”
“Something of that size would be virtual.”

We do not even consider putting our office employees into the same situation we are contemplating putting our children into. And let’s drive this point home: there are instances here when commanding officers will not put soldiers, ACTUAL SOLDIERS, into the kind of indoor environment we’re contemplating for our children. For me this is as close to a ‘kill shot’ argument as there is in this entire debate. How do we work from home because buildings with recycled air are not safe, because we don’t trust other people to not spread the virus, and then with the same breath send our children into buildings?

“Children only die .0016 of the time.”

First, conceding we’re an increasingly morally bankrupt society, but when did we start talking about children’s lives, or anyone’s lives, like this? This how the villain in movies talks about mortality, usually 10-15 minutes before the good guy kills him.

If you’re in this camp, and I acknowledge that many, many people are, I’m asking you to consider that number from a slightly different angle.

FCPS has 189,000 children. .0016 of that is 302. 302 dead children are the Calvary Hill you’re erecting your argument on. So, let’s agree to do this: stop presenting this as a data point. If this is your argument, I challenge you to have courage equal to your conviction. Go ahead, plant a flag on the internet and say, “Only 302 children will die.” No one will. That’s the kind action on social media that gets you fired from your job. And I trust our social media enclave isn’t so careless and irresponsible with life that it would even, for even a millisecond, enter any of your minds to make such an argument.

Considered another way: You’re presented with a bag with 189,000 $1 bills. You’re told that in the bag are 302 random bills, they look and feel just like all the others, but each one of those bills will kill you. Do you take the money out of the bag?

Same argument, applied to the 12,487 teachers in FCPS (per Wikipedia), using the ‘children’s multiplier’ of .0016 (all of us understanding the adult mortality rate is higher). That’s 20 teachers. That’s the number you’re talking about. It’s very easy to sit behind a keyboard and diminish and dismiss the risk you’re advocating other people assume. Take a breath and think about that.

If you want to advocate for 2 days a week, look, I’m looking for someone to convince me. But please, for the love of God, drop things like this from your argument. Because the people I know who’ve said things like this, I know they’re better people than this. They’re good people under incredible stress who let things slip out as their frustration boils over. So, please do the right thing and move on from this, because one potential outcome is that one day, you’re going to have to stand in front of St. Peter and answer for this, and that’s not going to be conversation you enjoy.

“Hardly any kids get COVID.”

(Deep sigh) Yes, that is statistically true as of this writing. But it is a cherry-picked argument because you’re leaving out an important piece.

One can reasonably argue that, due to the school closures in March, children have had the least EXPOSURE to COVID. In other words, closing schools was the one pandemic mitigation action we took that worked. There can be no discussion of the rate of diagnosis within children without also acknowledging they were among our fastest and most quarantined people. Put another way, you cannot cite the effect without acknowledging the cause.

“The flu kills more people every year.”

(Deep sigh). First of all, no, it doesn’t. Per the CDC, United States flu deaths average 20,000 annually. COVID, when I start writing here today, has killed 133,420 in six months.

And when you mention the flu, do you mean the disease that, if you’re suspected of having it, everyone, literally everyone in the country tells you stay the f- away from other people? You mean the one where parents are pretty sure their kids have it but send them to school anyway because they have a meeting that day, the one that every year causes massive f-ing outbreaks in schools because schools are petri dishes and it causes kids to miss weeks of school and leaves them out of sports and band for a month? That one? Because you’re right – the flu kills people every year. It does, but you’re ignoring the why. It’s because there are people who are a–holes who don’t care about infecting other people. In that regard it’s a perfect comparison to COVID.

“Almost everyone recovers.”

You’re confusing “release from the hospital” and “no longer infected” with “recovered.” I’m fortunate to only know two people who have had COVID. One my age and one my dad’s age. The one my age described it as “absolute hell” and although no longer infected cannot breathe right. The one my dad’s age was in the hospital for 13 weeks, had to have a trach ring put in because she could no longer be on a ventilator, and upon finally getting home and being faced with incalculable time in rehab told my mother, “I wish I had died.”

While I’m making every effort to reach objectivity, on this particular point, you don’t know what the f- you’re talking about.

“If people get sick, they get sick.”

First, you mistyped. What you intended to say was “If OTHER people get sick, they get sick.” And shame on you.

“I’m not going to live my life in fear.”

You already live your life in fear. For your health, your family’s health, your job, your retirement, terrorists, extremists, one political party or the other being in power, the new neighbors, an unexpected home repair, the next sunrise. What you meant to say was, “I’m not prepared to add ANOTHER fear,” and I’ve got news for you: that ship has sailed. It’s too late. There are two kinds of people, and only two: those that admit they’re afraid, and those that are lying to themselves about it.

As to the fear argument, fear is the reason you wait up when your kids stay out late, it’s the reason you tell your kids not to dive in the shallow water, to look both ways before crossing the road. Fear is the respect for the wide world that we teach our children. Except in this instance, for reasons no one has been able to explain to me yet.

“FCPS leadership sucks.”

I will summarize my view of the School Board thusly: if the 12 of you aren’t getting into a room together because it represents a risk, don’t tell me it’s OK for our kids. I understand your arguments, that we need the 2 days option for parents who can’t work from home, kids who don’t have internet or computer access, kids who needs meals from the school system, kids who need extra support to learn, and most tragically for kids who are at greater risk of abuse by being home. All very serious, all very real issues, all heartbreaking. No argument.

But you must first lead by example. Because you’re failing when it comes to optics. All your meetings are online. What our children see is all of you on a Zoom telling them it’s OK for them to be exactly where you aren’t. I understand you’re not PR people, but you really should think about hiring some.

“I talked it over with my kids.”
Let’s put aside for a moment the concept of adults effectively deferring this decision to children, the same children who will continue to stuff things into a full trash can rather than change it out. Yes, those hygienic children.

Listen, my 15 year old daughter wants a sport car, which she’s not getting next year because it would be dangerous to her and to others. Those kinds of decisions are our job. We step in and decide as parents, we don’t let them expose themselves to risks because their still developing and screen addicted brains narrow their understanding of cause and effect.

We as parents and adults serve to make difficult decisions. Sometimes those are in the form of lessons, where we try to steer kids towards the right answer and are willing to let them make a mistake in the hopes of teaching better decision making the next time around. This is not one of those moments. The stakes are too high for that. This is a “the adults are talking” moment. Kids are not mature enough for this moment. That is not an attack on your child. It is a broad statement about all children. It is true of your children and it was true when we were children. We need to be doing that thinking here, and “Johnny wants to see Bobby at school” cannot be the prevailing element in the equation.

“The teachers need to do their job.”
How is it that the same society which abruptly shifted to virtual students only three months ago, and offered glowing endorsements of teachers stating, “we finally understand how difficult your job is,” has now shifted to “screw you, do your job.” There are myriad problems with that position but for the purposes of this piece let’s simply go with, “You’re not looking for a teacher, you’re looking for the babysitter you feel your property tax payment entitles you to.”

“Teachers have a greater chance to being killed by a car than they do of dying from COVID.”

(Eye roll) Per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the U.S. see approximately 36,000 auto fatalities a year. Again, there have been 133,420 COVID deaths in the United States through 12:09 July 10, 2020. So no, they do not have a great chance of being killed in a car accident.

And, if you want to take the actual environment into consideration, the odds of a teacher being killed in a car accident in their classroom, you know, the environment we’re actually talking about, that’s right around 0%.

“If the grocery store workers can be onsite what are the teachers afraid of?”

(Deep breath) A grocery store worker, who absolutely risks exposure, has either six feet of space or a plexiglass shield between them and individual adult customers who can grasp their own mortality whose transactions can be completed in moments, in a 40,000 SF space. 

A teacher is with 11 ‘customers’ who have not an inkling what mortality is, for 45 minutes, in a 675 SF space, six times a day. 

Just stop.

“Teachers are choosing remote because they don’t want to work.”

(Deep breaths) Many teachers are opting to be remote. That is not a vacation. They’re requesting to do their job at a safer site. Just like many, many people who work in buildings with recycled air have done. And likely the building you’re not going into has a newer and better serviced air system than our schools.

Of greater interest to me is the number of teachers choosing the 100% virtual option for their children. The people who spend the most time in the buildings are the same ones electing not to send their children into those buildings. That’s something I pay attention to.

“I wasn’t prepared to be a parent 24/7” and “I just need a break.”

I truly, deeply respect that honesty. Truth be told, both arguments have crossed my mind. Pre COVID, I routinely worked from home 1 – 2 days a week. The solace was nice. When I was in the office, I had an actual office, a room with a door I could close, where I could focus. During the quarantine that hasn’t always been the case. I’ve been frustrated, I’ve been short, I’ve gone to just take a drive and get the hell away for a moment and been disgusted when one of the kids sees me and asks me to come for a ride, robbing me of those minutes of silence. You want to hear silence. I get it. I really, really do.

Here’s another version of that, admittedly extreme. What if one of our kids becomes one of the 302? What’s that silence going to sound like? What if you have one of those matted frames where you add the kid’s school picture every year? What if you don’t get to finish the pictures?

“What does your gut tell you to do?”

Shawn and I have talked ad infinitum about all of these and other points. Two days ago, at mid-discussion I said, “Stop, right now, gut answer, what is it,” and we both said, “virtual.”

A lot of the arguments I hear people making for the 2 days sound like we’re trying to talk ourselves into ignoring our instincts, they are almost exclusively, “We’re doing 2 days, but…”. There’s a fantastic book by Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear, which I’ll minimize for you thusly: your gut instinct is a hardwired part of your brain and you should listen to it. In the introduction he talks about elevators, and how, of all living things, humans are the only ones that would voluntarily get into a soundproof steel box with a potential predator just so they could skip a flight of stairs.

I keep thinking that the 2 days option is the soundproof steel box. I welcome, damn, beg, anyone to convince me otherwise.

At the time I started writing at 12:09 PM, 133,420 Americans had died from COVID. Upon completing this draft at 7:04 PM, that number rose to 133,940.

520 Americans died of COVID while I was working on this. In seven hours.

The length of a school day. #302

62 thoughts on “One parent outlines his (and his friends’) choices for children this fall”

  1. Thank you so much for this! I am a teacher in a district that isn’t even offering a 2 day option. Kids can be 100% online or parents can elect to send them back to school all day every day. We have been told it is possible we will still have 20+ kids in our classrooms. This scares the heck out of me! And so far we don’t know who will be teaching virtually or in person, nor do we know how the district will make that decision.

      1. Teachers. Many teachers teach and then coach, sponsor, or advise sports and clubs. Other teachers work in restaurants, bars, or retail to make enough to survive. Additionally, many teachers return to school, on their own dime, so that they can receive a marginally better salary. They don’t get to take time off for this. Everything extra is just added to an already demanding job.

      2. Working 2 jobs: welcome to the life of every working woman in the U.S., along with the lives of countless women and men who emigrated here. Re: the former, Google “women” + “second shift” for extensive documentation of data on working women and how they continue to bear the brunt of child rearing despite their partners’ best intentions. Re: the latter, a simple search of “immigrants” + “multiple jobs” will reveal data showing that the jobs open to immigrants are so far below minimum wage that they must patch together multiple jobs and basically work every moment they are awake in order to ensure their families survive.

      3. If you are a working parent, you have always had two jobs. That is not new, and as pre to it should be our job to educate our children!

      4. Excuse me, last I checked having kids was a choice. And also, every working woman with kids in America would like to have a word with you.
        It sounds like you’re just whining that you don’t want to have to take care of your kids AND work, and if that doesn’t make you a shitty parent I don’t know what does.

      5. What second job are you referring to? Being a parent? Because I’m pretty sure you chose that job when you decided to have kids.

  2. Wow!! Thank you so much for putting into words what I’m feeling in my heart! I am literally terrified of sending my child back to the school that I work in. Hell, I’m terrified of sending me back in there! I have no idea what the solution is but I know it’s not putting my child or anyone else’s child in harms way. Thank you again. 😊❤️

  3. Thanks for the article. The number you are referencing is 0.0016% not 0.0016. At least if you are quoting the one from the CDC/White House. So your numbers are off by a factor of 100. There would be 3 deaths if all 189000 kids got infected by a corrected calculation.

    1. That is incorrect according to both the CDC and John Hopkins. The real numbers are between 1.5 and .5% so the math would be.
      189000*.005=445 dead Kids, but you might not want to believe these numbers because you have alternate facts……

    2. My friend just quoted these numbers and they made zero cents to me so I had to do the math myself. As Jeff said, when you multiply by a percent you need to multiply by .000016 which Jeff correctly calculated is about 3 deaths which I agree would still be tragic. That said, approximately have the 189k students are older than the 5-9 age group that the .0016% is applicable to and in the 10-19 age group percent of .00032%. Of the ~98,500 students in the 10-19 age group the .00032% (98,500 x .0000032) would result in .3 kids. Still tragic, but with kids at home how many additional drop-outs, overdoses, suicides, life altering drug habits, or other life altering events is this population of kids susceptible to. Additionally, how much more do you want children of low-income & single parent homes to repressed. These children who need the structure of school the most are most likely to have their future negatively altered by these decision.

      I’m not saying we need to take the virus casually but we do need to consider the actual cost possible protecting the lives of 1-2 out of 189k kids. Keep in mind, it is very plausible that those 1-2 kids get the virus anyway, To date, according the the CDC’s website, in the United States, in the age group 5-14 years old, 14 people have passed due to Covid-19. In that age group in the same period of time 46 have died from the Flu and another 66 from pneumonia.

      Please make sure to do the math correctly if you are attempting to influence people’s decision and please try to also consider the damage this decision is going to do to thousands of under-privilege and low-income kids.

      1. Bob. Your math is off. Too many zeros in your calculation. This a number less than one human. However. One human is one too many. My question for all to ask themselves. If you are currently working remotely, and would not go back to the ‘office’ with more than 10 people in the room where your workspace is located, then why send a child with less formed decision making skills into the same situation? Also, you cannot demand that school employees do the same if they feel uncomfortable in the same scenario. School buildings are, most definitely, old and using antiquated air systems which would not provide any protection. More like would recirculate the contaminants than filter them. You should see the black crap that settles around my classroom when it’s in use. From a 10 year old system no less.

      1. According to the WHO, 1.24 to 1.45 out of 1000 children die from Covid-19. That would be .012%, which means the author used the correct multiplier in his original article. Or if you want to use the WHO numbers the number of children who would die in this district would be 226.8. Please note that this is per district, not per city or per state or per country. I am aware that actuarial tables have been used for a long time to dictate public health policy. However, just because that’s the way it’s been done in the past doesn’t mean it’s the way it should be done.

      2. Bob, check those WHO numbers you cite, they are child mortality rates in the US from ALL CAUSES!!

      1. How many people in Virginia have been going to school?
        If kids go back to school, we will revisit at, say, Thanksgiving time and see is this zero is still accurate. Don’t get me wrong, I WANT the zero to hold. I want no kids to die from Covid. In the world.
        But I think it is cavalier to compare the last four months effectively sitting at home with what will occur when hundreds of kids, faculty, and staff go back into the same building for 5-8 hours per day.

      1. No, that’s not how you figure percentages. 189,000 x 0.0016% = 3.02. You are two decimal points off. By your math 100 x 20 (2000) is the same as 100 x 20% (20).

        This thread shows us just how much we need in-person school. Most of the commenters would fail basic math! Not only does the correct calculation equal 3.02 deaths, but the author fails to understand that his claimed death rate (I have not been able to verify this rate among children and believe it’s actually lower) is among those who have been infected with COVID-19. In no universe would the entire school population of the district of Fairfax be infected. There is growing scientific evidence that children under the age of 12 are not transmitting the virus to others. So if we assumed a statistically improbable transmission rate of say 25 percent we would end up with a hypothetical death tally of zero. Because these numbers are SO wrong, I hope Dr Moretti will consider removing this post, or at least editing the numbers. Apparently the original author (this post is circulating on Facebook) has refused to do so and continuing to circulate this is misleading and fearmongering.

  4. the problem with the shaming of moral calculus is we do it literally al the time. public policy is essentially a series of actuarial debates about how much death and suffering and inequity are we willing to suffer for a given freedom or benefit. acting like its novel that we are assigning discussing actuarial value of human lives neglects, just for example, that the leading cause of preventable deaths of children in the US is car crashes. yet we do not pursue public policy that supports a zero tolerance policy for traffic violence. there are COUNTLESS examples of this. COVID is an accute example and a potentially severe one, and i generally agree with your risk assessment, but the specific point of managed risk assessment being a new low of some sort is not compatible with governance or civilization.

  5. One thing I rarely see mentioned is the danger to families and to the communities in general once children are back in school (in person) and Covid 19 starts spreading more. Maybe only a small percentage of children will be directly affected by the virus but what about their parents and grandparents when the kids bring the virus home? Yes parents need to work, but if the parents die the kids lose out on much more than the income the parents were providing. Remote learning is the safest option at this time.

  6. I assumed two thing while reading the Original Poster’s(OP) articles, first is that they are a good parent. I assume this because they are thinking about what is best for their child, and any parents who thinks about what is best for their child is a good parent. Second, that they are privileged enough to have options as to what to do this school year with their kids.
    I disagree strongly with parts of this article, so much so that I felt I had to comment.
    Below are my thoughts on the OP’s statements

    1. “So, when we say that we want the kids to benefit from the social experience, what are we deluding ourselves into thinking in-building socialization will actually look like in the Fall?”

    Children benefit not just for the areas the OP discussed, they also benefit from being a setting of their peers and problem solving, working in groups, and simply learning together. Even if they don’t have “lunch rooms” they will eat in the classroom with their friends and talk. Even if they don’t have “recess” they will have free time to play together.

    2. ““They’ll be behind where they should be,” to which I’ll counter that “where they should be” is a fictional goal post that we as a society have taken as gospel because it maps to standardized tests which are used to grade schools and counties as they chase funding.”

    While the standard may be lowered, kids will now fall below this lower standard. Some children do not do well with at home learning. Possibly they do not have the resources they need to learn, the environment to learn, the willing parents to help them learn. A child who was already struggling in school will now be lost. Again, the OP is a good parent, who obviously does not fear their child being left behind and so they have deemed it a non-issue.

    3. “Same argument, applied to the 12,487 teachers in FCPS (per Wikipedia), using the ‘children’s multiplier’ of .0016 (all of us understanding the adult mortality rate is higher). That’s 20 teachers. That’s the number you’re talking about. It’s very easy to sit behind a keyboard and diminish and dismiss the risk you’re advocating other people assume. Take a breath and think about that.”

    “A teacher is with 11 ‘customers’ who have not an inkling what mortality is, for 45 minutes, in a 675 SF space, six times a day.

    Just stop.”

    But it’s okay for daycare workers to keep working? Are they not in the exact same position as teacher, except even more underpaid? What about Hospital workers, grocery store employees, fast food workers, construction workers, line man, police officers, utility works, Game Stop employees, restaurant employees, Amazon factory workers, UPS, FEDEX, Postal service, bus drivers, taxi drivers, Lowes, Target, Walmart, Home Depot? Is it okay because you need them?

    While kids may not understand their own mortality, they grasp rules much better than adults. I have been in countless situations where I see adults, without a mask, without 6 feet of separation, harassing an already overworked under appreciated employee. Why, because the specific brand of whatever is not in stock. Please don’t diminish the sacrifice that all these people have made. It’s wrong and it’s uncalled for. All ESSENTIAL employees were are still are at risk, do not tell them they’re not. Don’t say a thin mask and Plexiglas is good enough. Do not put more value on a teacher’s life over theirs. Again, I bring up daycare workers they have the same risk as teachers and they were told to work for find a new job.

    4. “I understand your arguments, that we need the 2 days option for parents who can’t work from home, kids who don’t have internet or computer access, kids who needs meals from the school system, kids who need extra support to learn, and most tragically for kids who are at greater risk of abuse by being home. All very serious, all very real issues, all heartbreaking. No argument.”

    And yet the OP is arguing about it. The article is dedicated to ignoring these kids. 1,720 children die from abuse or neglect according to the Childwelfare.gov in a year, ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY. Is that a number you are okay with?

    I think what the OP meant to say is this is heartbreaking, for OTHER people. And shame on the OP.

    I would like the ask the OP what they think will happen to all the kids of working parents? Where do you think they will go during the day? They will go to a daycare center. They are being put into the same situation, except daycare’s have lower standard, less regulation, and NO educational value. The OP is obviously privilege enough that they don’t need to worry about that.

    This decision will have consequence either way, back to school, or stay at home. Children will suffer either way. Open the schools, and let parents decide what is best for their child.

    1. Pt. 3 I have the same thoughts regarding day care. Do we have statistics on the spread of Covid-19 in day care centers? How many “essential workers” have children in day care? Some of these workers work in long term care settings: group homes, nursing homes, dialysis centers, etc. Have any outbreaks been traced back to daycares?

    2. This. Thank you for putting into words. Most of us don’t have the luxury of working from home. Kids have to go somewhere.

    3. Responding to Nicole who wrote, “But it’s okay for daycare workers to keep working? Are they not in the exact same position as teacher, except even more underpaid? What about Hospital workers, grocery store employees, fast food workers, construction workers, line man, police officers, utility works, Game Stop employees, restaurant employees, Amazon factory workers, UPS, FEDEX, Postal service, bus drivers, taxi drivers, Lowes, Target, Walmart, Home Depot? Is it okay because you need them?”

      None of the people you mentioned work in jobs where they are put in one room with 25 other people for 7 hours a day. I teach Kindergarten, and in a typical year have 23-27 students in my classroom. My school has no air conditioning and our classroom windows do not open. I haven’t gotten the final details on our reopening plan, but so far it has been said that those 25 students will be with me all day in one room. In my state, daycares currently have a cap of TEN people to a room so that situation is different as well….

      Nicole also wrote, “And yet the OP is arguing about it. The article is dedicated to ignoring these kids. 1,720 children die from abuse or neglect according to the Childwelfare.gov in a year, ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY. Is that a number you are okay with?”

      This is horrible. As someone who deeply cares about children, it makes me sick. It also concerns me that you are putting the weight of not only identifying but also rescuing these children on the shoulders of educators. While one time I sadly did have to report something to CPS, I have only done so only one time in my 11 years as an educator. Teachers are mandated reporters of a child abuse. A quick search of the website that you posted also listed these professionals as mandatory reporters: ƒ
      Social workers
      ƒ Teachers,
      principals, and other school personnel
      ƒ Physicians, nurses, and other health-care workers
      ƒ Counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals
      ƒ Child care providers
      ƒ Medical examiners or coroners
      ƒ Law enforcement officers
      Additional professionals who are mandated to report suspected or known maltreatment by some States include the following:
      ƒ Commercial film or photograph processors (12 States, Guam, and Puerto Rico)3
      ƒ Computer technicians (in 6 States)4
      ƒ Substance abuse counselors (14 States)5
      ƒ Probation or parole officers (17 States)6
      ƒ Directors, employees, and volunteers at entities that provide organized activities for children, such as camps, day camps, youth centers, and recreation centers (13 States.)

      My point is that it is completely unfair to put the entire responsibility of saving abused and neglected children onto teachers. I spent years in college and grad school learning to be an effective educator. Please don’t confuse one aspect of my profession with what I’m highly trained to do. We watch a short video on being a mandated reporter every year.

      1. Agreed with Kate. It’s very hard to have this conversation with so many different policies in place across the country. I don’t know about where Nicole lives, but where i live, like Kate, daycares are required to cohort the same group of kids every day in groups of less than 10 kids, with only one adult interacting with them the entire day. There is no mixing of groups, the kids (ten or less) plus the one caregiver form a stable unchanging social bubble. I don’t know of any school in this country that has the resources or staffing to do that. Further, many of the days cares that have been implementing this are operating at break even or loss.

    4. This!
      Particularly #2. Children from poorer families, children with special needs, children without the luxury of just coasting will suffer disproportionately to the rest of the population. The author is well-meaning but writes from a point of extreme privilege.

  7. According to the WHO, 1.24 to 1.45 out of 1000 children die from Covid-19. That would be .012%, which means the author used the correct multiplier in his original article. Or if you want to use the WHO numbers the number of children who would die in this district would be 226.8. Please note that this is per district, not per city or per state or per country. I am aware that actuarial tables have been used for a long time to dictate public health policy. However, just because that’s the way it’s been done in the past doesn’t mean it’s the way it should be done.

  8. 1. Numbers: The author’s calculation is based on the correct percentage (mortality rate based on infection), but assumes that everybody gets infected. This is an absurd assumption and one would certainly hope that there is enough surveillance testing that schools will get shut down if there are any significant outbreaks.

    2. All evidence suggests that elementary age children are much less likely to transmit the virus and less likely to get sick themselves.

    3. The return to school needs to be based on the local transmisison rate in the community and there are many areas (mostly in new england) with low rates and adequate testing and they should be able to reopen their schools.

    4. If community transmission is low it is possible to reopen schools safely (see most of Europe).

    5. If community transmission is low, what other criteria are you going to wait for? If you insist on a vaccine or cure that could be years away, are you going to go ‘remote learning’ for years?

  9. PLEASE correct or take down this article – it is spreading on social media with an ENTIRELY INACCURATE mathmatical calculation, imlying there are significantly more coronavirus deaths in children than is factual!! This is irresponsible.

      1. Yes of course, everyone needs to evaluate the situation and has a different risk tollerance threshold. The FACTS and MATH need to be accurately though in order to evaluate that risk! This article points to deaths under 18 as .75 per 100,000 in NYC as a data point. That would be 1-2 deaths in the population discussed. Look – I am NOT sending my children to school this year after I evaluate the totality of the situation, even with these numbers. I get the message but is irresponsible to post this article with inaccurate data.

      2. One item we don’t know — how much of the death count among <18 was a result of governors basically forcing them to isolate from ballpark March 1 on? If those schools had remained open, would the number be higher? I sure as heck don't want to know… but I sure as heck know a whole lot of parents who are fearing that reality in the fall :-(.

  10. There has been significant conversation here about data and the .0016 figure. Can you find other data points? Sure. I found one that (data up to June 17, or about one month ago) put the death rate for children between the ages of 5 and 14 at roughly 13 for every 100,000 (https://www.acsh.org/news/2020/06/23/coronavirus-covid-deaths-us-age-race-1486). That would be roughly 25 for a student population of 189,000. I found another (deaths through May 18) that the death rate for all children under 18 was less than 0.1 (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6928e1.htm?s_cid=mm6928e1_w#T2_down). The data tell only one part of the story about whether our children should go back to school this fall.

    1. I hate to comment generally, but i can’t let this go. You still are using the wrong numbers from that data. The 13 of 100,00 is not per population it is that age range’s proportion of covid deaths, which is not applicable to this discussion.
      The author is using data from that page (at the bottom from a swiss study) which gives the 0.0016% (for 5-9) and 0.00032% (for 10-19). These numbers are at best an approximation as the denominator can only be guessed at.
      A risk factor of 100x is important, it should have an impact on your reasoning, and it is wrong to continue to spread the false misleading numbers. The correction should make it clear.

      1. Check out the top of the post… someone sent me the link to what appears to be the source of the information… and, yes, that changes the number from roughly 302 to roughly 3. And you’re right… the approximation can only be guessed at.

        I think the conversation about what to do is even more challenging for parents who have a son/daughter with an underlying health condition.

    1. The debate about 3 children vs 302 is a non sense. One child dead is one too many. I’ve lost a child so I know what I am talking about. What is their answer to that?

      1. I agree… I think 130,000+ (in the U.S. alone) with a virus that can’t be put in check through a vaccine for perhaps another year.
        One of my students lost his aunt in March…
        Families that never will be whole
        And that’s why the conversation about coronavirus is about numbers and also about how we, as a country, move forward until that vaccine is proven effective.
        I’m so sorry you lost a child. I wish I could find more potent words that would make sense. I can’t.

      2. I’m sorry for your loss and completely understand why this would be upsetting for you.

        However you are misunderstanding the data. A 0.0016% death rate among children infected with COVID does not mean that three children will die from COVID out of the 189,000 in Fairfax County. They will NOT ALL get infected even in the worst case scenario and that number assumes they will. Unfortunately this has become a very emotional subject and people have been ignoring the basic numbers. Transmission rates for adults who are much more likely to transmit the virus are no where near 100 percent.

        And it also ignores that life is not without risk. There is more chance that a child will die from a car accident than from COVID. Using the 0.0016% rate cited by the author that means that there would statistically be 1.6 deaths per 100,000 *infected* kids. Let me reiterate that – 1.6 deaths per 100,000 kids who have contracted COVID and NOT 1.6 out of the general population of kids.

        Now let’s compare that number to children dying from accidental deaths each year, including motor vehicle accidents. That number is approx. 14 per 100,000. That’s 14 dead children out of a general population of children in that age range (in this case it’s 10-19 year old because I couldn’t find data for younger children – the source is here: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Unintentional-injury-death-rates-for-children-and-adolescents-aged-10-19-years-for_fig2_325550092 ).

        So if no deaths are acceptable, why have we not taken more steps to prevent accidental deaths? Why do we let children leave the house and travel in cars or on buses? Focusing on this alleged 3 deaths which were calculated on phony statistics is misleading and fear mongering. In reality a child in FCPS has much higher odds of being killed in an unintentional accident than dying of COVID. I know this is an inconvenient fact that destroys this narrative and clearly deaths (or rather the lack of then) are just one part of the picture but it’s important that we keep perspective.

  11. Thanks for at least partially correcting the math. It still isn’t correct though. .0016% is the infection-to-death-rate, meaning how many of those who are infected are expected to die. The writer assumes all 189,000 children in his district will be infected which is completely ridiculous. The average rate of infection for children around the world is 2%. So assuming 2% of this population were infected, one would estimate .06 deaths. So no deaths NO DEATHS. Please stop scaring the crap out of parents.

    1. Would you consider writing a counter argument? I know multiple parents who feel as you do — let the kids go back. (And, yes, I know multiple parents who aren’t ready to make that decision; I think many of them will opt for another option.) It’s clear to me you’ve invested time in understanding the positives/negatives of re-opening K-12 buildings. Interested?

    2. I already told him this. I guess he doesn’t want to admit it’s fallacious and misleading. It’s unfortunate that statistical literacy is so poor in this country – maybe we should get the schools open again to fix it?

      Dr Moretti, the BMJ article confirms that this is the infection-to-death rate not the general population death rate, why will you not clarify this?

      1. Here’s what I see… The overall death rate from covid-19 has been estimated at 0.66%, rising sharply to 7.8% in people aged over 80 and declining to 0.0016% in children aged 9 and under.

        Is there a different data point you are looking at?

      2. Please read the rest of the article and the link to footnote 1. They talk of infection facility ratio and case ratio. It’s very clear.

        Then if you still don’t understand I suggest you check the number assuming the 0.66 percent death rate you cite actually applies to the entire population like you seem to believe. Let’s do the math. There are 328 million people in the US. 0.66% of 328 million is 2.164 million. Have there been 2.164 million deaths in the US? If you believe there have, then I’m sure you still believe you are right, but the facts suggest otherwise, I’m afraid. It’s really not that difficult to understand and allowing this misinformation to stand is truly irresponsible and is scaring people even more than necessary during an already scary, stressful time.

  12. I’m not even going to comment on all of your points. Your data is absolutely incorrect. If you’re so worried about children why don’t you address abortion which kills millions of children every year. For children under the age of 15 4 died from Covid and most or all of them have had some type of greater illness. They’ve been more children die of the flu this year alone in Covid. A little over 400 children in the whole United States have died from Covid and you’re talking 300 children out of your 189,000 that’s completely incorrect. If you wanna know the truth go JBhandleyblog.com

  13. I’m privileged enough to work from home, and have the ability to support my child’s learning virtually. At this point, I almost feel it’s my responsibility to lighten the classroom load for her future teacher, give them more space maybe. This is something I CAN do to help those who can’t.

  14. I guess, using the logic that “some % of people might die”, we should end our military – because certainly, some % of people in the military, as young as age 18, will die.

  15. I’m struggling to understand all of the numbers debate. Upon reviewing documents from the CDC, the WHO and Mayo Clinic the figures are fairly easy to see. These are some of the best sources available at this time. The math isn’t bad. Per mentioned sources the US rate of the infection is roughly 7%. Per mentioned sources children aged 10-19 have a similar infection rate to mid aged adults and a higher rate than older adults. So roughly 7% at present, although FL is sitting at closer to 12% this week. Per named sources children aged 10-19 have very serious complications approximately in 3% of cases (more than 80% of which result in multi system/organ shut down). So 3% of 7% gets you reasonably close to the .0016 number being so hotly debated.

    1. Let’s use the numbers you provide and work it out. Remember the .0016% rate is the infection to death rate from the BMJ (link above). Let’s say that the infection rate is 12 percent as you claim, which I don’t believe it is given the growing evidence that child to child and child to adult transmission is much lower than adults. (Note: please can you cite your data with links because I’d love to look up the numbers you claim -I have widely reviewed CDC and WHO data and not found anything like what you claim).

      12 percent of 189,000 is 22,680. That means that 22,680 would get infected if that 12 percent infection rate is correct. Of those, using the 0.0016% rate that the BMJ cites, you end up with 0.36288 of a dead child. Not 302 and not 3.

      Now, if you read that BMJ article you’ll note that this does not include older children (and the 189,000 number does which is another error in the original post). The rate is likely higher (though still very much in the decimal points of a percent) for older children and death numbers do not tell the entire story, because, clearly there are other very negative outcomes at play — but remember they are also exceedingly rare.

      Published child mortality rates for accidental death are about 14 per 100,000 or 0.014%. Unlike the 0.0016% rate, this applies to the entire universe of children, so for that same group of 189,000, 26.5 kids will die an accidental death during their childhood.

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