As she argues, our knowledge in this sphere is provisional and incomplete and also in places contradictory (for example children's viral load/contagiousness).

But the problem of course is that policy - across all kinds of spheres - has to be made under uncertainty.
There are things we do have a pretty clear picture of, like what the absolute highest risk environments are: nursing homes, meat packing plants, nightclubs, packed indoor worship services with singing, bars, college house parties, etc...
Back at the beginning of the pandemic, there was reason to think elementary schools might be in that category! Kids are germy! But I think at this point, again, based on the provisional knowledge we have, it's pretty clears schools are not in the *highest tier of risk*.
So then the three questions become

1. Where is in-person school for young children on the risk spectrum?

2) What is an acceptable level of risk for teachers, administrators, children, parents and others?

3) How do you balance that risk against the costs of remote schooling?
Only one of these questions (the first) is epidemiological. And the answer there isn't really definitive. Again, I think it's pretty clear that elementary schools are not meat-packing plants or nursing homes in terms of risk, but there are a lot of gradations below that.
The other two questions are questions of social value, and difficult trade-offs. And what those trade-offs should be, what are worthwhile, are naturally going to look different from different perspectives.
The spokesperson for the union said "our union feels very strongly that right now virtual learning is the safest way to provide some instruction for our community" and this is absolutely, incontrovertibly true.
If the goal is reducing the risk of Covid transmission as low as possible, clearly remote instruction is best. The union also articulated a standard for what it considers safe to return to work: 14 days without community transmission.
This would mean, basically, total and complete supression of the virus. And again, I don't think this is an insane POV! If I were a teacher or representing teachers I can see myself taking that position.
But the question then becomes: what are the costs to children, families and communities of *another year* of in-person school. I think there is good evidence to suggest the costs are very very high:
High in terms of equity/learning gaps, in terms of children's emotional and physical well-being, and also in terms of burdens on families. I'd also say that in the same way we don't have definitive data on school safety we don't have definitive data on what it does to
kids to not physically socialize with other kids for long stretches and stare at screens all day. But that's a pretty relevant empirical question here as well.
Speaking just for me as a parent, we send our children to public school because we believe in public school and *precisely because we believe public schools are so valuable*, not just as sites of instruction, but central community institutions.
It is because of how valuable and crucial and important they are that their absence is so costly! And yes, *clearly* there should be money for PPE, ventiliation, etc.. But again, the question right now for local policy makers is what decisions to make now, under bad conditions
There is no definitive answer to the costs of these trade-offs, but my own judgment, from my own perspective is that total cost/benefits to communities as a whole push towards in-person instruction in places where community transmission is relatively low. (Not, say, Green Bay)
(Final note here just to say that I think @ProfEmilyOster has undertaken her work in total good faith and whatever critiques there are of the data or its use, she's filling an enormous vacuum that our government or others should be attemping to fill)
You can follow @chrislhayes.
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