During a press briefing this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that schools should open back up and, shockingly, that “science should not stand in the way of this.”
The president has said, unmistakably, that he wants schools to open… and when he says open, he means open in full. Kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.
Everyone online seems to be interpreting that statement to mean she doesn’t want facts getting in the way of the Trump administration’s desires.
That’s the wrong way to take it.
McEnany wasn’t saying schools should override the advice of epidemiologists and other experts. She was actually saying something even worse: That science is on their side.
In other words, the line in question should be interpreted to mean science isn’t the obstacle here.
Just look at the rest of her statement to get a better sense of this:
The science is very clear on this — that, you know, for instance, you look at the JAMA Pediatrics study of 46 pediatrics hospitals in North America that said the risk of critical illness from COVID is far less for children than that of seasonal flu.
The science is on our side here, and we encourage for localities and states to just simply follow the science. Open our schools. It’s very damaging to our children. There’s a lack of reporting of abuse. There’s mental depressions that are not addressed, suicidal ideations that are not addressed when students are not in school. Our schools are extremely important. They’re essential. And they must reopen.
Even if children would benefit from going to school (which is true), and even if children seem less likely to die from COVID (which appears to be true), there are all kinds of other factors to consider!
What happens if teachers (especially elderly ones!) get symptoms of COVID? Will they have to take two weeks off to self-quarantine? Is treatment covered under their insurance? Will they be paid for the time off?
What about substitute teachers, who are floating between different buildings? What precautions are being taken for them?
If a teacher gets symptoms, will the school tell that teacher’s students to stay home for two weeks? Will those kids be tested? Who’s paying for that?
What if bus drivers get sick? Imagine how many students they’re exposed to every day!
How will schools handle COVID-related deaths of teachers?
Those aren’t the only questions, of course, but McEnany didn’t address them because she says science supports the Republican position that schools should open up because the kids will be alright. That’s entirely short-sighted since it doesn’t take into account how the virus will spread among the adults in the building. Opening schools back up without taking all those problems into consideration could lead to disaster if implemented.
Criticize her for all that instead of mocking her for something she didn’t mean to say.