GOP Official Considers Reopening Schools Early

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The Coronavirus has claimed the lives of almost 17,000 Americans, and the U.S. death toll seems likely to pass the official death toll in any other single country, but none of that has stopped some Republicans around the country from pushing dangerous policy ideas anyway. At a roundtable discussion about education on Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican and close Trump ally, indicated that his administration was considering reopening schools in the state, even if it’s just in some areas and/or for a two week period in May, since the ordinary school year is almost over anyway.

DeSantis supported his position by claiming young people aren’t as affected by the Coronavirus, but a whole point of the social distancing that’s shut down large swaths of the U.S. is to keep people from becoming carriers, no matter the personal effect. People on the younger side (in the age range of teaching staff!) have gotten deathly ill and died from the Coronavirus across the U.S., and there have even been a small number of Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. among approximately school-age individuals. Does DeSantis really want to take that chance?

He insisted:

‘We’re going to look at the evidence and make a decision. If it’s safe, we want kids to be in school… Even if it’s for a couple of weeks, we think there would be value in that.’

The main concern here should not be pushing whatever policy DeSantis thinks has the most ideological value — in fact, Florida authorities have already been compensating for lost schooling via mass laptop purchases for students and the opening up of virtual classes. The main concern should be keeping people from becoming sick and dying.

DeSantis continued:

‘This particular pandemic is one where, I don’t think nationwide there’s been a single fatality under 25. For whatever reason it just doesn’t seem to threaten, you know, kids. And we lose in Florida between five and 10 kids a year for the flu. This one, for whatever reason, much more dangerous if you’re 65 and plus than the flu, no doubt about that. If you’re younger, it just hasn’t had an impact, so that should factor into how we’re viewing this. I think the data on that has been 100 percent consistent. ‘ve not seen any deviation on that.’

In fact, at least one American under five years old and four Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 have died from the Coronavirus — and that’s with strict social distancing measures in place. Without social distancing measures in place, infection and death rates would climb. That’s the whole point — and that’s why across the country, social distancing demands haven’t just been for people who might be extra susceptible to the Coronavirus. They’ve been in place for the population as a whole. Has DeSantis watched the news? At all?

His ignorance of the nature of needed social distancing mirrors the recently displayed ignorance of Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who recently claimed that his team had only just learned that people without symptoms could be spreading the Coronavirus. If he’d paid any attention to anything public health officials had been saying for months on end, he would have long known that.

Ignorance like the behavior from him and DeSantis puts lives on the line.