Senator Bruce Anderson: Data that closes bars can – and should — be used to re-open schools

Friends and neighbors,

Yesterday Gov. Walz announced a series of new restrictions related to the COVID pandemic. Among the notable ones are new caps on wedding receptions (a maximum of 50 people beginning November 27, which drops to 25 people on December 11); new caps on indoor AND outdoor gatherings (a maximum of 10 people from no more than three households); and bars and restaurants must end all dine-in service by 10 p.m. starting this Friday. Read this Fox 9 story for a good summary of the new rules. 

Governor Walz claims that data is driving his decision to add new restrictions to bars and family gatherings. This is arguable given the inaccuracy of the models he has based most of his decisions on during the course of the pandemic, but if we give him the benefit of the doubt then we must extend that data-driven approach to schools.

We now have enough information to show that reopening schools presents a low risk of significantly spreading the virus. What we do know is that keeping schools closed has an incredibly harmful effect on children.

Here is a recent story from CBS News:

“An education watchdog in the U.K. found that some children have regressed due to COVID-19-related school closures and restrictions. A report from Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, says some kids have fallen back in basic skills – and some who were greatly impacted have even forgotten how to use a fork and knife.

“…One is the “hardest hit” group of young kids. This group has suffered from time out of school and has gone backwards on words and numbers. This group has also reverted to diapers after being potty-trained or lost “basic skills” such as using a knife and fork.”

School closures have serious and damaging repercussions on children. We need to get them back into the classrooms as soon as possible. If the data shows that bars and restaurants need to be restricted, then that same data shows that schools can safely reopen will all children present without putting the broader community at risk. Anything less than that puts our children in serious jeopardy.