- Schools that have re-opened for classroom learning are already seeking spikes in coronavirus cases.
- While kids typically do not experience severe coronavirus symptoms, studies have shown they can still spread the virus to adults.
- Dr. Fauci has cautioned that the U.S. needs to get the number of daily coronavirus cases below 10,000 by fall.
We’re fast approaching a critical juncture in the battle to keep the coronavirus at bay. With fall right around the corner, cooler temperatures and the forthcoming flu season may result in a massive spike in new coronavirus cases. To this point, Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said that the U.S. could be in for a rude awakening if we can’t keep the daily number of new coronavirus cases below 10,000 by October.
“You look at our numbers now,” Fauci explained earlier this month, “we’re right in the middle of the first wave here. We’re having a surging of cases. The last ones with 50-60,000 per day with 1,000 deaths per day. We’ve got to get those numbers down. And if we don’t get them down, then we’re going to have a really bad situation in the fall. Because as you get indoors and you get the complication of influenza, that’s something we’re going to have to deal with.”
Compounding matters is that students returning to school this month could result in a brand new surge in coronavirus cases. Though the coronavirus doesn’t impact kids with the same severity as adults, studies have shown that kids can spread the virus to adults. As a result, kids returning to schools will likely result in the coronavirus spreading within schools, and by extension, to parents and the extended community.
As it stands now, this notion isn’t even a point of speculation. In recent weeks, schools in some areas have re-opened and we’re starting to see just how bad things can go. Remember that viral photo from a Georgia high school that showed kids — most of whom were not wearing masks — walking around a crowded hallway? The school has since suspended in-class learning after both students and teachers started testing positive for COVID-19.
What’s currently happening in Mississippi provides us with even more background as to what can go wrong when schools open back up too early.
But in Mississippi, the results have been remarkably dire. By the end of its first week, the Corinth School district had been forced to quarantine over 120 students and staff. Later that week, a longtime football coach at Lafayette High School died after quarantining with coronavirus symptoms. And on Monday, just as another group of school districts opened their doors, the state confirmed COVID cases in 22 schools. One day later, Gulfport High School sent 100 students to quarantine at home after a teacher there reported symptoms. On Wednesday, the Rankin County School District, which will begin holding in-person classes next week, announced its superintendent had tested positive for COVID-19.
And these aren’t even schools in the region of the state with the highest rates of coronavirus infections. The governor ordered those middle and high schools to delay reopening until Aug. 17.
“What these numbers let me know is that we did it too soon. And it’s going to get worse,” said Erica Jones, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, the biggest teacher’s union in the state. “All it takes is one student to come in with the virus and ‘boom,’ the spread is there.”
The end result is nothing short of panic on all fronts. Parents are worried. Teachers are scared, with many not in an economic position where they can refuse work.
Meanwhile, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has defended the decision to open schools back up.
“When you look around this country and you recognize how much child abuse and sexual abuse and other things that are actually reported, those [reports] are way down,” Reeves said during a recent interview on Fox News. “Those reports are way down in this country because so much of those reports actually occur because children trust their teachers and they’ll tell their teachers or their school administrators things that they won’t tell anyone else, and so we think it’s in the best interest of our kids to get them back in the classroom.”
“We recognize that we’re taking risks,” Reeves added, “but in today’s world, in 2020, there is no scenario whereby we can eliminate 100 percent of the risk.” It’s worth noting that Mississippi has one of the highest number (797) of coronavirus cases per 100,000 children.