Closing schools made kids sicker

Closing schools made kids sicker

“Closing schools to protect kids made them sick,” notes Pamela Hobart in Reason Magazine. “Children forced to Zoom into school ended up with suboptimal immune systems—the opposite of herd immunity.” As a result, children later suffered more from things like hand, foot, and mouth disease, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), she says.

As Hobart observes, “isolation does not put your immune system on pause; sometimes immunity follows a ‘use it or lose it’ rule. While they were Zooming in to school, children with existing partial immunity to endemic contagious diseases missed many opportunities to be exposed again, which would have refreshed their immune systems. We ended up with the opposite of herd immunity: a bunch of kids with suboptimal immune systems.”

Hobart discusses how school closings were followed by an “unprecedented, counterseasonal surge in communicable illnesses.” Amidst that, her “son fell ill with some demon strain of hand, foot, and mouth disease….It took more than a week for the hundreds of bubbly, fluid-filled -blisters coating his miserable body to dry up, and he spent most of that time crying and refusing to eat. The disease is not known to be fatal, thankfully, but it’s no picnic either. Shortly after that, my son and younger daughter both began coughing up their little lungs.”

Lockdowns and school closings also made people sicker by increasing obesity rates. As U.S. News reported,

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the nation’s obesity epidemic, according to a new report. In 2020, 16 states had adult obesity rates at or above 35%, up from 12 states the previous year….Since the pandemic began, 42% of adults in the U.S. reported gaining an undesired amount of weight…U.S. adults reported gaining an average of 29 pounds.

This is bad for people’s COVID survival rates. Obese people have higher death rates from the coronavirus, and higher rates of severe illness and complications. That is partly because fat cells are targets of the coronavirus. COVID infects fat cells, which means it not only causes severe illness but also long COVID and “pathogenic inflammation,” which “may explain the link between obesity and severe COVID-19,” notes a study by Stanford researchers.

Government lockdowns spawned obesity through things like “canceled soccer practices” and “shuttered dance rehearsals,” noted CNN.

Many children became fatter when schools closed to students and ended in-person teaching during the coronavirus pandemic. Childhood obesity rose at the fastest annual rate ever. “Overweight or obesity increased among 5- through 11-year-olds from 36.2% to 45.7% during the pandemic,” reported the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The evidence linking obesity to adverse COVID-19 outcomes is ‘overwhelmingly clear,’” say medical experts. Most people hospitalized for the coronavirus were obese.

Supporters of school closings claimed they were needed to protect people’s health. But by driving up obesity rates, school closings harmed students’ health.

Yet, entire university systems are now shutting down due to the mild omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is milder than the flu for most people. For example, Campus Reform reports that the “nation’s largest public university system” (California State University) which has 477,000 students on 23 campuses, is going remote.  So are prestigious private universities like Princeton and Duke.

Students at some colleges brought class-action lawsuits after their college ended in-person instruction in favor of online instruction. Students say they are being given an inferior education compared to what they paid for, and that this is a breach of their contract with their college. Some judges have allowed such lawsuits to proceed, finding that an online education is inferior to learning in the classroom.

K-12 schools are once again closing in some big cities and counties, even though past school closings did nothing to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The Chicago public schools were forced to close and cease instruction recently after teachers walked out after the teachers union voted to move to remote learning.

Kids learned less when learning from home than they did when schools were open — especially black and Hispanic students, whose pass rates collapsed in states such as Virginia.

Politics, not students’ well-being, was behind school closures. Decisions about whether to close schools were driven mainly by teachers “union influence and politics, not safety,” reported Reason Magazine.

Shutting K-12 schools actually increased coronavirus deaths, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh. The Centers for Disease Control pointed out that there’s “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to community transmission.”

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 and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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