SAFELY OPEN SCHOOLS NOW
I will continue to work with MCSD Administration, teachers and fellow trustees to safely reopen our schools for the health, and social well-being of the children of the Merced City School District. We all agree that our mission is to get our children back in the classroom as quickly and safely as possible. Our teachers and staff must be supported and protected from exposure to the virus with personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies. I admire greatly our teachers and staff's dedication to our students and their families. They are true heroes in my book.
An excerpt from my opinion editorial that I co-authored Sima Asadi, M.D. is Chair of Pediatrics at Mercy Medical Center Merced. Angela Seto is a lifelong Merced resident, small business owner, and a product of Merced public schools. Shane Smith, Ph.D. is a local attorney and Merced City School District Trustee. All are parents of school-age children.
"We can confidently reopen schools for two reasons."
First, unlike the seasonal flu, COVID-19 is not a pandemic of childhood. Kids typically account for more than half of influenza cases. Yet epidemiologists studying clinical records from Europe, for example, found that children less than 18 years-old account for roughly 1 percent – 3 percent of infected individuals.
Children also seem to develop less severe COVID-19 symptoms overall, and available evidence suggests that child-to-adult transmission is uncommon. Those observations may follow from kids’ developing immune systems, reduced viral replication in children, or both.
This means that kids are not the main drivers of this pandemic. Indeed, other studies conclude that school closures in China and Europe had only a marginal impact on disease transmission. And we have seen daycare centers and preschools operate in many parts of our country, including in Merced County, without significant, uncontrolled outbreaks of COVID-19 because well-developed safety protocols can be and are followed.
Second, steps can be taken to safeguard the grown-ups who are essential to a re-opened campus. For instance, physical interaction among adults can be significantly limited; students can be organized into self-contained units (or “cohorts”) taught by a small number of socially-distanced adults; campus entry can be contingent upon daily symptom checks; classroom sanitizing and hand washing protocols can be implemented and enforced; masks or face shields can be worn; teachers and school staff in higher risk groups can be re-assigned to off-campus roles. These and other safety measures have been developed by state and Merced County health authorities based upon our scientific understanding of the virus. Read more about them on the Merced County Office of Education website at: www.mcoe.org/deptprog/super/Pages/School-Guidance.aspx."