The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says schools should reopen in the fall, declaring it is in the “public health interest” to reopen.
“I don’t think I can emphasize it enough as the director for the Centers for Disease Control, the leading public health agency in the world — it is in the public health interest that these K through 12 students to get the schools back open for face-to-face learning,” Dr. Robert Redfield on Friday told lawmakers with the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Redfield said children, who are at very low risk for complications from COVID-19, said it important for mental health.
“I want these kids back in school,” he said. “I want it done smartly but I think we have to be honest that the public health and interest of the students in the nation right now is to get a quality education and face-to-face learning. We need to get on with it.”
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The CDC last week issued new guidance for reopening schools, suggesting that students stay within small groups throughout the school day to minimize exposure to the virus.
Last month, Redfield said the low coronavirus risk to children without preexisting conditions means schools should reopen, adding that there has been a spike in suicides and drug overdoses.
“It’s not risk of school openings versus public health. It’s public health versus public health,” he said. “I’m of the point of view, and I weigh that equation as an individual that has 11 grandchildren that the greater risk is actually to the nation to keep these schools closed.”
Redfield said that more than 7 million children get mental health services from their school, “a lot of people get food and nutrition in schools,” and added that schools are vital “in terms of mandatory reporting sexual and child abuse.”
“Obviously, the socialization is important,” he said. “And, obviously, for some kids, I think actually a majority of kids, their learning in a face-to-face school is the most effective method of teaching.”