Children are not immune from infection. They get it but don’t necessarily get seriously ill. However, some do die, just at a lower percentage than older adults. Unfortunately, they can transmit it to everyone else, including other children in the school, family, teachers, and school staff. Any of those people could be at high risk due to diabetes, obesity, or immunosuppression and could potentially die.
Although Tim seems to think the educational risk “dwarfs the total of deaths due to virus”. I respectfully and strongly disagree. Wait until it hits your family or others you care about. There are 400,000 families you could ask as of today and 500,000 projected by mid-February.
As for teachers who, yes, are being spoken for by the teachers unions, they are just like everyone else. Not only do they care for their own health, but they have families too, and in spite of the implications in the article, they care about their students as well.
I spent the last 14 years of my working career teaching Biology in High School and have great respect for the teachers AND staff I worked with. They cared about their craft, AND they cared about their students. Your implication they don’t is insulting. If you review the principles of the chain of infection (these can be found on the CDC website), you would understand that reopening without adequate protections would be a gift to the virus. I also suggest you consider what your plan would be to replace teachers and staff who become infected, and possibly die, from the virus. If you think there are legions of qualified teachers waiting to fill the breach, you are mistaken.
So, do we just sit back? We could open up but it would require us to do more than just reopen as usual. Teachers AND staff would have to have priority access to the vaccine. Temperatures would need to be monitored daily with quick tests available, quarantine procedures in place and there would need to be procedures to isolate sick students at school until parents could pick them up. However, the biggest problem would be crowding. Take a look at High School classrooms. They don’t have enough space for safe social distancing. They are designed for 30 students and often have 35. My point is this is not a “just open up” environment in the middle of a pandemic. It is not simplistic, it is complicated.
Which brings me to my last point--it is irresponsible to dump this on individual school districts to solve on their own. The formula for reopening should be designed by epidemiologists and healthcare professionals so that the districts have at least a chance of instituting a successful reopening. If this isn’t created by the CDC, then it should be done at the state level, based on science not politics.