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Horowitz: Schoolchildren's lives have been destroyed. Any lessons learned?

Op-ed
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It is now an incontrovertible fact that closing or opening schools had zero bearing on the course of the pandemic or the safety of children who were never at an elevated risk from this pandemic. It’s clear from schools reopening during the worst Delta wave with no extra repercussions that all of the academic, mental health, physical health, and behavior development problems we foisted upon the children were absolutely senseless. This, despite the fact that so many of us knew this for months on end, but our cries fell on deaf ears.

Any thinking person should be asking: If the governing elites were this wrong for so long on earlier pandemic decisions, with such devastating consequences, why are we taking their word as gospel now when they push endless boosters of an unsafe shot and block other therapeutics? At some point, there needs to be accountability.

To implement such policy chemotherapy as shutting down schools indefinitely, one would have to cough up an insurmountable degree of evidence showing severe consequences of not shutting them down. Yet, from day one, not only was there no evidence that children were in danger themselves or a danger to others simply by remaining in school, but there were mountains of evidence to the contrary.

Back on May 4, 2020, I wrote my first piece on schools, noting that “closing schools was the biggest mistake of this lockdown,” and presented numerous data points showing that there is only harm and no benefit from the policy. Yet it took months for most Republican governors to get on board and over a year for many blue-state governors to follow suit. We will never recover the generational loss from that shutdown. Yet it wasn’t a “one and done” policy. Every day following late March 2020 was another opportunity to follow the truth and reopen schools. They could have fully opened schools normally at any time, yet they failed to do it.

We saw early on that not a single child in Sweden died when all the primary school children remained in session without masks. Another Swedish study observed, “There was no additional household risk for those over 70 in Stockholm associated with co-residing with children still in school during the pandemic.”

Eventually, when nearly all the schools opened in September for the 2021-2022 academic year, after having parts of two years destroyed, there was no noticeable increase in community transmission. This, despite the reopening coinciding with the worst Delta spread and hospitalizations among adults. A peer-reviewed study published in the Lancet noted, “Infection rates in school-based contacts were low, with very few school contacts testing positive.”

A study of nearly 18,000 students in 77 schools in Marin County, California, concluded, “Returning to in-person school did not drive an increased COVID-19 case rate in the community. On the contrary … there was a drop in countywide COVID-19 cases as the phased student return percentage increased.” Even a writer at the Atlantic conceded, “Looking at the state-by-state data, you’d be hard-pressed to find bumps that can be pinned on the beginning of the semester. Last year, no surge happened in September either. … Schools aren’t the problem. They never have been.”

Again, it’s OK to forge a policy based on a mistaken assumption for a few days. After all, we have all made mistakes, and we are not exactly used to dealing with bioweapon viruses created from gain-of-function research by some of the same powers behind the school shutdowns! However, what is not OK is to persist in those views for months on end after the collateral damage became clear and the initial evidence of zero benefit to the policy kept being reinforced every day.

A recent report in Maryland found that just 15% of all Maryland public school students passed math and just 35% passed English in the state’s standardized testing this year, the greatest single-year decline of any state test in two decades. As the Capital Gazette reports, “The declines were worse among students who had been out of in-person school for the longest. Schools in Maryland were some of the last in the country to return to in-person learning.”

My mother taught second grade in a Maryland private school that was only closed for the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Yet even there, she found the students to be off the wall during the following academic year, to the point that she chose early retirement. There are still many public schools throughout the country where the kids are being forced to cover their breathing all day and eat lunch in the freezing cold outside. In fact, some schools are still forcing masks even outside, despite outdoor transmission being debunked early on in the pandemic.

This will quite literally take years off lives the lives of our children. The University of California published a study in JAMA estimating a cumulative loss of 5.53 million life years from this generation of children due to lost educational attainment.

Now that we are at a crossroads with a virus that clearly is not responding to the shots and there are so many safety signals indicating widespread injuries, how can we allow these policies to continue? Whether it’s the coerced or pressured shots, the denial of lifesaving early treatment, or the continued use of remdesivir, it’s not the mistakes of this pandemic that make the response so criminal but the persistence of doubling down on them, even after the truth has become undeniably clear.
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