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Infectious Disease Specialist: Better To Keep Kids At Home While COVID-19 Rates Spike

By: Manny Otiko, IVN

The state of California is getting ready for a political fight over education in the age of the coronavirus. The Los Angeles County school district, which is one of the largest in the nation, and San Diego county, have both stated they are going to practice distance education in the Fall.

“While distance instruction is not ideal, I want parents and community members to know that school administrators and teachers are committed to ensuring that learning continues. We will be held to high standards for providing rigorous, meaningful instruction and for meeting students’ needs, including nutrition and wellness. We have the support of the California Department of Education, state and county government agencies and other stakeholders who want to make a difference for our students and families,” according to a press statement from LA County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo.

However, Orange County, which has long been known as a conservative stronghold, insists it’s still going to have in-person school in the fall.

“The Orange County Board of Education concludes that it is not acceptable to delay the

opening of public schools as it is not in the best interests of our children and families,” said the board in a lengthy white paper.

However, the white paper included some questionable information.  For example, the paper stated, “K-12 children represent the lowest-risk cohort for Covid-19. Because of that fact, social

distancing of children and reduced census classrooms is not necessary and therefore not

recommended.”

The paper also stated, “Requiring children to wear masks during school is not only difficult – if not impossible to implement – but not based on science. It may even be harmful and is therefore not

recommended.”

Dr. Daniel Gluckstein is medical director of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, and an infectious disease specialist. He said that now is not the time to send children back to school. He added that children should only return to school when COVID-19 rates are declining. And right now that’s not happening.

California and the nation have not gotten over the coronavirus threat.  According to figures provided by The New York Times, California’s numbers are still trending up. There are about 160,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths in Los Angeles County. Riverside County had the second-highest number of cases in the state with 30,000 infections and about 500 deaths. Orange County came in third with about 30,000 people testing positive and more than 490 deaths.  With more than 400,000 cases of COVID-19, California has the highest number of infected people in the country.

Gluckstein also took issue with some of the statements made in the Orange County school board’s white paper. For example, while it’s true that infection rates are low among young children, young adults/high-school-age students can contract and transmit the disease.

And there’s also the issue of multi-generational families. School children can pass the disease onto senior citizens who may be living with them. Gluckstein has seen this in several local hospitals. He added that there have been cases of two-to three family members who have been infected with the disease. In one particular family, one person died and four other family members were hospitalized.

Gluckstein also disagreed with the white paper’s assertion that masks are ineffective in containing the disease. He added there have been several studies on this. In one study, a hairdresser wore a mask and didn’t infect her customers. Also, Japan has a very low COVID-19 infection rate because they’ve made a habit of wearing masks to contain disease for a long while.

“We know masking and social distancing works,” said Gluckstein.

Gov. Gavin Newsom stated that schools will not be allowed to reopen unless they are off the state monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. And if they do reopen, they’ll be required to take steps such as physical distancing, wearing masks and having regular temperature checks.

However, both President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have insisted students must return to school in the fall.

Trump also dismissed the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for reopening schools.

“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things,” said Trump in a tweet.

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