1/ Amid all the back-to-school plan worries, I think what we are missing is that there are two different fears being expressed about a full-time re-open and I don’t think it's well-understood how class-sizes affects each one differently.
2/ The first is “I don’t want my kid to get sick/carry it to infect other more vulnerable family members” + “I don’t want my kid’s school to be closed because some other kids get it”. The solution here is some combo of “smaller classes” + “lower community transmission rates”.
3/ Not sure how many people get that second part. If community infection rates are halved, the likelihood of getting into schools is halved too. So halving the community infection rate is roughly = to halving class size in terms of reducing the number of infections in schools
4/ So, if today’s drop to below 50 new infections for the province is correct and sustained, then the likelihood of your kid getting infected or a school shutting down has just been reduced by an amount equivalent to a halving of class sizes. Yay test and trace!
5/ But second objection is different. It’s not about the whack-a-mole of individual cases and schools but about guarding against systemic failure which could shut down the entire economy.
6/ Because let's be clear: what we are about to do in schools is something we haven’t done anywhere for the last six months: put a couple of million people in close (less than 2m) proximity to one another, often in dubiously-ventilated rooms, for sustained periods of time.
7/ At low levels of community infection, we can probably get by with whack-a-mole. But as infection levels rise, the potential is that school classrooms, WHICH WILL BE THE DENSEST CONCENTRATIONS OF HUMANS IN THE COUNTRY will act as a multiplier for outbreaks as they did in Israel
8/ This is a totally different threat-level than the whack-a-mole stuff. A school here and there is no big deal, but what if schools end up helping to drive daily new cases from say 200 to 400 or 500 – levels where we have to lock down not just schools but the whole economy?
9/ Current back-to-school plans are basically equivalent to placing a lot of kindling on the ground. It’s fine as long as no one lights a match. But in the event a fire starts, the current back to school plans risk making the fire, if it comes, a lot bigger than it needs to be.
10/ IMHO smaller class sizes, etc, are only moderately impt in terms of keeping individual kids safe & schools open. igger role is as safety net for society & economy as a whole, making sure that open schools won't magnify infection flareups & force us into a second lockdown
11/ Because that really would be unforgivable. The fury not just of parents forced to leave the workforce again but of all of society if this happens will be unimaginable. Yet every government in the country seems to think that gambling on this is worth it. Amazing stuff.
12/ Anyways point is: smaller class sizes are partially about keeping individuals within schools safe. But they are mostly (I would argue) an insurance policy against a debilitating general re-ignition of COVID in the community. Less kindling = smaller fires.
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