A few schools temporarily closed in early September out of fear that coronavirus will spread. As one parent laments, "My son's school is closing for Tuesday & Wednesday. Why? Did they find a bunch of COVID cases? No. The message they sent parents was that they are worried kids will catch COVID over the Labor Day weekend so they're closing school pre-emptively. This is ridiculous."
Some school systems are now sending entire classes of students home, if even a single student exhibits a symptom of COVID-19 -- even if that symptom is also a sign of the flu, and the student has not tested positive for the coronavirus. Never mind that studies show children are much less likely to catch the coronavirus than adults, and less likely to spread it.
The Montgomery County Public Schools have adopted quarantine rules that the Washington Examiner's Tim Carney calls "malicious." Under the "county’s new quarantine rule—a single symptom (a cough! Exhaustion!) requires quarantine" of "the student and all close contacts."
If a student exhibits a COVID symptom or symptoms, contacts will be required to quarantine until the student returns a negative test. As one parent notes, "This is absolutely bonkers -- it's fall allergy season and cold season is coming. They're going to send full classes home every time a kid has a sniffle??"
"Yes they are," observes another parent; "my kid is home today because another kid had sore throat." And "5-6 kids sitting nearby" were quarantined.
Sending students home will make them fatter by depriving them of physical education and other exercise. Quarantining them deprives them of even more exercise. Lockdowns spawned obesity through "canceled soccer practices" and "shuttered dance rehearsals," noted CNN.
Many kids became fatter when schools closed to in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Obesity rose at the fastest annual rate ever among kids. “Overweight or obesity increased among 5- through 11-year-olds from 36.2% to 45.7% during the pandemic, an absolute increase of 8.7% and relative increase of 23.8%,” reported the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Rising obesity made suffering from the pandemic much worse. “The evidence linking obesity to adverse COVID-19 outcomes is ‘overwhelmingly clear,'” say medical experts. Over three-quarters of all people hospitalized for the coronavirus are overweight or obese, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in March.
Unlike adults, children almost never die of the coronavirus. But they can require costly hospitalization for it, especially if they are obese. Obese people are much more likely to require hospitalization when they contract COVID-19.
Supporters of school closings claimed they were needed to protect people’s health. But by driving up obesity rates, school closings harmed students’ health. Students learned much less during distance or online learning that they did when schools were open -- especially black and Hispanic students, whose pass rates collapsed in states like Virginia.
Shutting schools actually increases COVID-19 deaths, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh. “Schools do not, in fact, appear to be major spreaders of COVID-19,” said Brown University's Emily Oster. Back in 2020, the federal Centers for Disease Control pointed out that there's “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to community transmission," and that closing schools leads to "severe learning loss."
Schools remain open in most European countries such as France. But in the U.S., teachers unions and left-wing activists successfully pushed to keep schools closed, resulting in enormous learning loss. Some progressive localities even forced private schools to close, even when they satisfied federal health guidelines.
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.