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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Four years after 'two weeks to flatten the curve' ...


Photo: Amina Filkins/Pexels

Four years ago, schools across the country closed their doors. It was supposed to be for two weeks or three or . . . Most schools stayed closed till the end of the school year. Teachers tried to learn how to teach online.


Some schools reopened for full-time, in-person learning in the fall. But many urban schools and schools in "blue states," did not fully reopen for a year or more.


"Today, there is broad acknowledgment among many public health and education experts that extended school closures did not significantly stop the spread of Covid, while the academic harms for children have been large and long-lasting," write Sarah Mervosh, Claire Cain Miller and Francesca Paris in the New York Times.


"For each week spent remote, students in poor districts experienced steeper losses in math than peers in richer districts," they write. High-poverty districts "were also more likely to stay remote for longer." Academically, the poor got poorer.


Isolated at home, children experienced more anxiety and depression. They ate more, spiking obesity rates, and exercised less.


When schools reopened, teachers reported "more anxiety and behavioral outbursts among students," notes the Times. Chronic absenteeism is way up.


The most recent test scores, from spring 2023, show that students, overall, are not caught up from their pandemic losses, with larger gaps remaining among students that lost the most ground to begin with. Students in districts that were remote or hybrid the longest — at least 90 percent of the 2020-21 school year — still had almost double the ground to make up compared with students in districts that allowed students back for most of the year.

Children were not "safer at home" from Covid.


“Infectious disease leaders have generally agreed that school closures were not an important strategy in stemming the spread of Covid,” said Dr. Jeanne Noble, who directed the Covid response at the University of California, San Francisco health system.


By the fall of 2020, there was "evidence from Europe and parts of the United States that opening schools, with safety measures, did not lead to significantly more transmission," write Mervosh, Miller and Paris.


Emily Oster, a Brown economist, analyzed the data and made the case for reopening child-care centers and schools in July 2020. She was a hero to privileged parents, wrote Dana Goldstein in the Times, and vilified by others. (She is owed apologies by many, but I'd advise her not to hold her breath.)


I think the decision to close schools four years ago was understandable. Keeping schools and playgrounds closed is a lot harder to defend. We could have learned from countries that reopened (or never closed) K-8 schools. We could have used common sense. But, no.





"Sweden didn't impose lockdowns, school closures, or mask mandates," he notes. The elderly and at-risk were encouraged to stay home, but healthy Swedes were not.


Covid posed little threat to the young and healthy, and those who were infected and recovered would built "herd immunity" to stop the spread.


NBC called it "Sweden's failed experiment and Time magazine headlined "disaster," Stossel recalls.


Then herd immunity kicked in. "Sweden's excess death rate was the lowest in Europe," he says. "Because Swedish schools never closed, Swedish students didn't suffer the learning losses that American kids did."

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9 Comments


Heresolong
Heresolong
Mar 23

Our state closed. For about a year, then when we came back, it was half the kids, half the time, for four hours a day. Consequences:


Chronic absenteeism

Chronic anxiety leading to constant trips to the extra mental health counselors that the school has hired.

Students who to this day wear a mask every single day

Students who won't talk to each other during group work


To make matters worse, the original announcement from the Superintendent of Schools was "school is cancelled for the rest of the year". Two weeks later we were calling every family to tell them that we are having remote school. Imagine trying to convince a kid that you are serious after you told him th…

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superdestroyer
Mar 23
Replying to

Once again, to believe that adult workers would have stay in their jobs in schools at the beginning of the pandemic is laughable. The idea that all families would have gone along with sending their children to crowded schools with no precautions is also laughable.


I never understand people who believe that the U.S. could have ignored Covid-19, that everyone would have gone along, and that there would have been fewer deaths.

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rightactions
Mar 22

John Stossel forgot that the USA isn't full of Swedes. The USA is full of No-One-Can-Tell-Me-What-To-Do jerks.


Bad news Libertarians: Americans don't have anywhere close to enough of the moral fiber required for a Libertarian society to function. And that's why the USA's governments--federal, state, and local--turned to imposing mandates during the CHINA-19 pandemic.

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m_t_anderson
Mar 22

Ah, if schools were the only thing crippled by the WuFlu Foolishness. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses were ruined, hundreds of military personnel were involuntarily separated, the fragility of the just-in-time supply chain was exposed, and overall goods and services have become shoddy and erratic. And the two presidents who egged all this on are duking it out to give us a second helping.

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JK Brown
JK Brown
Mar 23
Replying to

The only thing the shot ever showed efficacy for was it reduced the severity of COVID in the most vulnerable. They shouldn't have gone along with the media lies that the shot conferred immunity or inhibited transmission. And all that has been found since the pandemic is that the shot reduced the severity of COVID in the most vulnerable, the elderly and immuno-compromised.


However, the Danish found and the UK adopted, that injecting into the blood vessel was dangerous, so the ordered all shots be aspirated to ensure the needle wasn't in a blood vessel. The US has still not adopted this simple and common process in giving shots. And it is likely that those with "long COVID" are tho…


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superdestroyer
Mar 22

Sweden had a higher death rate from Covid-19 than the State of Washington in the U.S. with comparable population sizes and with Washington State having worse demographics. Sweden also effectively sealed its border. To believe that Sweden was not effected by Covid-19 is wrong.


And even the state that were the most covid-19 defiant had problems hiring teachers and support staff to work in schools during the pandemic.


If the pandemic taught Americans anything, it is that politicians and the public do not have the attention span to deal with any chronic problem and that politicians need to either deal with something within 90 days or not even try.

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