Montgomery County harms children by closing private schools

Montgomery County harms children by closing private schools
Image: Montgomery Public Schools

Progressive Montgomery County, Md., is ordering private schools to close. The county falsely cited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as an excuse to close the schools. But the CDC says school closings are “harmful to children,” and schools should remain open if certain basic health precautions are taken. Maryland’s governor says he “strongly” disagrees with the county’s decision.

The county’s true reason for closing private schools is probably to prevent them from competing for students with the county’s public schools, which remain closed, and will only teach students online. Public school teachers are represented by teachers unions, which are a powerful force in Montgomery County, where their endorsement can make or break a politician. Closing private schools will prevent public-school students who need in-person learning from getting it by enrolling in a private school. That’s bad, because online learning typically does not work well for young children.

Syndicated columnist Phil Kerpen says, “This is evil. Based on the politics of envy and in the absence of any valid health rationale, Montgomery County is ordering private schools that comply with all health guidelines to close. Sacrificing children’s wellbeing on the altar of politics.”

As Kerpen notes, “The CDC” is “urging schools to open. The CDC” is “saying children are dying in far greater number from school closures than from COVID.” “School closures kill more children than COVID.” But Montgomery County is closing these schools anyway.

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“Extended school closure is harmful to children,” notes the CDC in “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools This Fall.” Closing schools “can lead to severe learning loss.” Moreover, “extended closures can be harmful to children’s mental health and can increase the likelihood that children engage in unhealthy behaviors.” A “notable increase” in child “abuse” has occurred during the recent school closures.

As the head of the CDC noted, among the young, “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess, that we had as background, than we are seeing deaths from COVID.”

As Kerpen notes, Montgomery County falsely claims that the closures are needed due to “increases in COVID-19 transmission rates.” But in fact, “transmission is flat at a low, out-of-season level” in Montgomery County. “The MoCo numbers are extremely clear. No increase even with a massive ramp up in testing.”

As Kerpen points out, “teachers unions” have forced the shutdown of many “public school systems” by pressuring union-backed politicians to close them, and by threatening to strike. “The hard left knows that’s terrible for kids” who attend public schools, and their perverse “sense of fairness requires them to dole out equal misery to nonpublic school kids.”

“And if they can permanently kill off some of those nonpublic schools, even better,” given the left’s ideological hostility to private schools.

There is no public-health reason to close any elementary school. Whether to close middle or high schools is more complicated, although they should reopen if they can follow appropriate social distancing guidelines (as Montgomery’s private schools appeared to be doing).

Young children don’t really spread COVID-19, although the risk rises as children approach maturity. A German study found no evidence of coronavirus spread in schools there. A commentary published in the journal Pediatrics, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, concluded that young children rarely transmit Covid-19 to each other or to adults, weighing in favor of reopening the schools.

Experts have thus far failed to find a single case of a young child giving the virus to an adult, and children under the age of ten clearly do not transmit the virus to other children at high rates. As the Sydney Morning Herald reported:

No child has been found to have passed coronavirus to an adult, a review of the evidence in partnership with the Royal College of Pediatrics has found.

Major studies into the impact of COVID-19 on young children suggest they “do not play a significant role” in spreading the virus and are less likely to become infected than adults

While experts insist that more evidence is needed, they note there has not been a single case of a child under 10 transmitting the virus, even in contact tracing carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO). …

Now a review in partnership with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has found the evidence “consistently demonstrates reduced infection and infectivity of children in the transmission chain”…

Kostas Danis, an epidemiologist at Public Health France who carried out that study, said the fact that children developed a milder form of the disease may explain why they did not transmit the virus.

While he said that it was possible children could infect others, there had not been a case to date and there was “no evidence that closing schools is an effective measure.”

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for CNSNews.com and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”