Public school closures may be a big mistake
WASHINGTON -- Decades from now, historians will ask themselves why most of America's governors shuttered public schools for months because of the coronavirus outbreak. Worse, America's parents didn't even complain.
Our future selves, if the country rebounds, will be baffled that an establishment dead set against homeschooling became so gripped with fear that it sent children in need of an education away from the schoolyard. And if we're lucky, they'll be astonished that the governing class gave so little thought to the damage the move was bound to do to vulnerable kids who face dim economic prospects without a solid education.
They'll wonder why voters just went along with the scheme and why public school teachers didn't fight to keep schools open because education is an essential service.
Obviously governors wanted to shield children from a disease that can be fatal, even if deaths from infected children are exceedingly rare. One death is one too many.
But ignorance and feelings of helplessness also can be hazardous to one's health, and they can rob a young person of a promising future and sense of well-being.
This is a reaction that never had occurred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early coronavirus guidelines recommended school closures only when an infected person had been in a building or in areas of high infections rates -- and then for two to five days.
For the past few weeks, I've tuned into online discussions on education during the coronavirus shutdown, and I've waited in vain for someone to mention that schools really should be opened as soon as possible.
Two words I'd love to hear: summer school. Particularly for students who need it -- which would be most students.
Instead, Washington's great minds noddle about the need for better 5G Wi-Fi in underserved communities or the need for local governments to deliver school lunches to needy children.
They speak as if they are dealing with a jigsaw puzzle for which they have all the pieces.