RALEIGH – This snowball has accrued so much mass, it seems impossible to stop. No, not the feared exponential spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus, but the heavy-handed and enormously costly government reactions to the virus with no clear evidence that they actually help more than hurt.
In keeping with this accretive downhill slide, Governor Roy Cooper announced Monday afternoon that he’s signing another executive order to keep K-12 schools closed until at least May 15.
“[…] “I’m not ready to give up on this year of school,” Cooper said, adding a message to parents who are now homeschooling. “I know this is extremely difficult for you and your children, but this is what we need to do to slow the spread of this virus.”
Cooper said that N.C. “must maximize the time left in the year as much as possible.”
Education officials said that students who were scheduled to graduate this year will still be on track to do so.
The officials urged parents not to treat the school closures as a “break.” They stressed that parents should keep their children caught up on their academic responsibilities and on a normal, school-like schedule. […]”
That last part is the kicker. ‘We know you’re working from home (governor’s orders), or trying to keep you small-business afloat during forced closures (governor’s orders), or refreshing to screen to see if you can actually file for unemployment benefits because you just lost your job by diktat and don’t know how you’re going to pay your bills (governor’s orders), but please make sure you to keep your kiddos caught up and scheduled as if everything were absolutely normal.’
The economic costs of closing schools are enormous. The public health costs are significant too, as it means key healthcare personnel who have kids — already under incredible pressures as it is — are further taxed with figuring out their childcare.
Further, there is no evidence that keeping kids out of school does anything to meaningfully impact the spread of this virus among ‘at risk’ persons. While children have been found to carry the virus, they almost never become ill, and the World Health Organization hasn’t found a single case of a school-aged child transmitting the disease to others.
There a lot of legitimate questions about the efficacy of COVID-19 mitigation policies, and the closures of school is certainly one of them. Beyond not helping to mitigate the spread of the virus, it could actually be counterproductive.
Better not question the authoritarians or experts, though, lest you be deemed an enemy of the collective safety against the Wuhan Coronavirus for wondering if these absolutely unprecedented executive actions in our state are really necessary or productive.