Q&A – Should Florida’s schools open or follow the CDC’s guidance? Part 1
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: Brian I’m confused. Hasn’t all of the “science” suggested schools are safe? I’ve heard you talk about this. The CDC’s guidance must be bunk science.
Bottom Line: On Friday the CDC issued its updated guidance officially referred to as the “Plan, Prepare, and Respond” plan. The updated operational strategy plan includes a 36 page K-12 Mitigation Toolkit and a whole host of recommendations for a “hybrid” remote learning and classroom education model based on the concentration of cases and levels of community spread. The CDC’s guidance uses a five-tiered color-coding system applying its new safety standards. Under the current guidance, 89% of students live in “red zones” and 99% of students currently attending school are in “red zones”. Those schools wouldn’t be open for classroom education if the CDC’s standards were applied. Only 115,000 students are enrolled in school districts currently considered low risk by the CDC. So how did the CDC arrive at these guidelines? The CDC simply had this to say: The Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation reflects current knowledge of COVID-19 in the United States. Satisfied with that explanation? Neither is Governor DeSantis as he had this to say: These kids have been out of school in parts of this country for almost a year and if you follow that CDC guidance, they will not go back in this school year and they may not even go back in the fall. That is a disgrace, that is not science. That is putting politics ahead of what’s right for kids. That is putting politics and special interests ahead of what the evidence and observed experience says.
What’s clear with this overhaul of school reopening recommendations is that there’s new leadership at the CDC. Is it truly political as Governor DeSantis alleges? With teachers' unions opposing classroom education nationally and many of those battles coming to a head right now...it’s possible. There is motivation in certain circles to close schools or to keep them closed. Now about the bunk science thing... You’re right. In fact, it was none other than the CDC which issued findings on January 26th finding very little transmission within schools open for classroom education. Of course, that report had been complied by the CDC under it’s former director, Dr. Robert Redfield. So yes, the CDC’s new guidance directly contracts its own guidance from three weeks ago. Given that transmission rates have only dropped since then... It’s hard to rule politics out. As for what’s occurred within Florida’s schools since reopening...we’ll take a look in the second part of today’s Q&A.
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