A thoroughly maddening segment on CNN, wherein host Jake Tapper tries to make heads or tails of the new CDC Director's position on re-opening schools. In recent days, Dr. Rochelle Walensky has sounded bullish about the prospect, saying schools can safely reopen now, even if teachers aren't yet vaccinated. But after making this point twice, she was undermined and chastened by the Biden White House, which said she'd merely been speaking in her 'personal capacity.' Walensky has evidently received the political memo at this point, leading to the muddled and confounding interview with Tapper. Watch as they talk in circles for nearly ten minutes after the anchor opens by quoting Walensky's words back to her. She's said that schools should be the last thing to close and the the first thing to open, in the context of this pandemic. Does she still agree with herself? You tell me:
Teachers at high risk for Covid-19 should have options for virtual learning, CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky says following the agency's updated guidance for reopening schools #CNNSOTU https://t.co/GORbZU7gPv pic.twitter.com/t7b5LEzNeG— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 14, 2021
Allahpundit's depressingly accurate summary of the exchange:
Tapper: This is a national crisis. Kids need to be back in class immediately. If that means tolerating a higher degree of risk, shouldn’t we do that?
Walensky: Sorry, only near-perfect safety will do.
Which, coincidentally, happens to also be the position of the teachers unions that own the Biden White House.
Note how Walensky makes a big deal out of the rate of community spread. The new CDC guidance that would give cover for schools to stay shuttered in areas experiencing 'red' zone levels of transmission. The problem, Tapper points out, is that this would encompass communities in which 99 percent of all American children live. A preposterous standard. Should open schools close? Another problem comes via dozens of other top experts, as relayed in the New York Times:
Depending on various metrics, between 48 percent and 72 percent say the extent of virus spread in a community is not an important indicator of whether schools should be open, even though many districts still rely on those metrics. Schools should close only when there are Covid-19 cases in the school itself, most said. “There is no situation in which schools can’t be open unless they have evidence of in-school transmission,” said Dr. David Rosen, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Washington University in St. Louis. The risks of being out of school were far greater, many of the experts said. “The mental health crisis caused by school closing will be a worse pandemic than Covid,”said Dr. Uzma Hasan, division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at RWJBarnabas Health in New Jersey.
Community spread, one of the first excuses Walensky cites in defense of potentially slow-walking school re-opening, isn't even an especially relevant factor in assessing the safety of opening classrooms up for in-person instruction, these doctors say. Sure enough, CDC's own data has demonstrated that even in communities with exceptionally high COVID positivity rates, schools have not been super spreaders. The impact on cases traced back to in-school transmissions was negligible. Dr. Anthony Fauci -- who all of a sudden seems to be parroting the political company line -- has attested that kids are safer from the virus in schools than they are out in the broader community. How can anyone justify keeping kids out of schools, given that information? And given the reality that countless private and public schools have been open, thriving and operating safely for months -- with hardly any alarming Coronavirus-related ramifications? There's a massive, real-time experiment underway, involving millions of students around the world. The results are decisive and overwhelming, yet the powers that be in this administration, beholden to special interests who funnel huge amounts of campaign cash to the ruling party, are refusing to apply the clear data-driven scientific lessons accordingly.
This would be inexcusable even if it were just a matter of government unions resisting their members showing up for work based on dubious and unsupportable excuses. But it's an outright disgrace considering the academic, emotional and mental harm being inflicted on students and young people by continued isolation and failed virtual learning. Making a choice not to address these catastrophes as urgent and alarming priorities is simply indefensible:
Experts paint a grim picture of the struggle with lockdown isolation — a “mental health pandemic” that should be treated as seriously as containing the coronavirus. https://t.co/SgJlAjOzmI— Alicia Smith (@Alicia_Smith19) February 14, 2021
This is sobering: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital has seen a 66 percent increase in the number of suicidal children in the emergency room and a 75 percent increase in youth who required hospitalization for mental health services.https://t.co/GMb6L3BQzy— Monica Gandhi MD, MPH (@MonicaGandhi9) February 13, 2021
Walensky nods as Tapper mentions these concerns, then proceeds to mumble about masks and distancing, while refusing to commit to her own previous position that if these mitigation steps are in place, schools can open. A befuddled and frustrated Tapper says that it sound like she's making a tautological argument under which mitigation steps must be followed to allow for safe re-openings, but because not everyone might fully comply, the re-openings aren't guaranteed to be safe. So 'round and 'round we go, with no clear answers. Tapper also confronts her with an email she wrote to school leaders in her own home community, which advised less onerous measures over the summer:
You’ve probably seen the letter from CDC head @RWalensky, recommending 3 foot distancing for her own district back in July.— Karen Vaites (@karenvaites) February 13, 2021
Looking for the source to ensure its authenticity?
I got you...
Masking, plus three feet of distancing (not six, which she's now pushing), would be "quite safe," "much more practical" and "very viable" even for middle and high schools. That was her own analysis. She claims that the science has changed since July, but has it? As I alluded to above, millions of students have been learning in more or less fully open private and public schools for months on end -- many operating under fewer restrictions than the CDC is currently proposing -- and the results have been...an overwhelming success. Did the science change or did, ahem, something other than the science intervene?
CDC confessed to letting teachers union overrule science. Outrageous corruption. https://t.co/NhS6WzPUqI— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) February 15, 2021
It's no wonder that parents in districts where unions won't accept the science and do what's right for kids are furious. This whole thread is worth your time:
Today is a really discouraging day. The Biden School Closing Plan is dressed up to make it appear they want schools to open but the details will have the exact opposite effect. This is a gift to unions and a betrayal of kids. 1/— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) February 12, 2021
Last week the CDC indicated they were for opening schools. Then the WH told them to be quiet. Now we have a politically influenced document pushing things in the other direction. Exactly what people appropriately criticized Trump for doing.— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) February 12, 2021
The Biden School Closing Plan means schools may not open full time until well into 2022. It could lead to a permanent education realignment and inequality gap. This isn't science, it's negligence.— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) February 12, 2021
I'll leave you with a refreshing breath of sanity from Florida's governor, who is declining to accept this "help" from Washington, noting that his state's schools have been operating well throughout the current academic year:
When it comes to education in Florida, we’ve followed evidence and data, not special interests and hysteria. We did what was right by our students and families and we are not turning back. pic.twitter.com/pz2h1UahLK— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 13, 2021
Also, here's the Vice President lying about vaccination plans:
.@VP Harris to @mikeallen: "There was no national strategy or plan for [COVID-19] vaccinations. … We're starting from scratch."— Axios (@axios) February 14, 2021
At a press conference last month, Fauci said "we certainly are not starting from scratch" on vaccine distribution. #AxiosonHBO pic.twitter.com/TdYnOHN1Bw
Yes, the VP said that just yesterday. Somehow the ascending line before January 20 was an accident, and the ascending line after January 20 is the result of careful national planning. That said, here's hoping the effort succeeds and the line shoots upward.https://t.co/SrXlHiPRlx pic.twitter.com/4wNAIZtabb— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 15, 2021