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You can not just wave a magic wand and suddenly all children will do OK with online programs.

The issue we will address in this article is why public schools should not continue to remain closed for the next school year.

On Monday, April 6, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee and Superintendent Chris Reykdal held a press conference at which they announced that schools in Washington state would remain closed for the rest of the school year. Therefore more than one million students in Washington state are now certain to lose nearly 4 months of learning – March, April, May and June. This is already by far the longest statewide school closure in the history of our state.

During the press conference, Inslee first said schools are expected to reopen in the fall. But later, Chris Reykdal stood beside Inslee and stated that “school leaders should prepare for the possibility that closures may bleed into fall.”

The next day, on a local radio show, Reykdal stated that he might wait for a vaccine to be developed: “Short of a vaccine, which people continue to tell us is 12-18 months away, we have to figure out if it’s safe to come back even in the fall. Will we see a spike in cases if we are all sort of released from our social distancing framework?”

“If 25 or 30 kids are put back into a classroom in close quarters, and someone has the virus, it’s going to spread again very rapidly. Then schools would have to close to be cleaned, and there would need to be an effort to conduct contact tracing.

So if that looks too dysfunctional, if not enough of us have gotten the virus and built the antibody, or we don’t have a vaccine, the return to schools are really tough considerations right now. We have a lot of science working hard to figure it out, but I already have to start thinking about how to continue to strengthen our online model.”

What Reykdal is saying is that if the virus comes back again in the fall, he will simply shut down schools again.

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There are are at least seven major errors in Reykdal’s dangerous reasoning.

#1 There is no “science” that supports what Reykdal is doing.

#2 Social Distancing does not reduce the transmission of any viruses.

#3 If there is a “double bounce” in the fall it will be because his social isolation policies of shutting down schools and businesses prevented people from building up immunity to the corona virus.

#4 Flu vaccines are not effective.

#5 Closing schools has never been effective in reducing flu transmission. Kids may be less at risk in schools than at home.

#6 Online programs do not work for most kids, in most school grades and in most subjects and most learning styles.

#7 Failure to provide ALL children with an education is a violation of the Washington State Constitution.

Let go briefly over these seven issues.

#1 There is no “science” that supports what Reykdal is doing.
In his statements, Reykdal claims to be following the science. The problem is that he has never referred to a single scientific study that might support what he is doing. There is just some sort of magical science out there. By contrast, I have provided hundreds of scientific studies – all of which show beyond any reasonable doubt that everything Reykdal thinks is true is not actually true. The people of Washington state counted on Reykdal to do at least some basic research before harming our one million school children. Reykdal failed to do this basic research.

#2 Social Distancing does not reduce the transmission of any viruses.

We had an entire chapter on this subject. Reykdal made two huge errors here. First, Reykdal made a fool out of himself when he quoted a Neil Ferguson believing his ridiculous claim that “more than 2 million people will die from the corona virus in the US in the next few months.”

But instead of realizing that Ferguson does not know what he is talking about, even after Ferguson admitted that he got it all wrong, Reykdal believed Ferguson’s claim that social distancing reduced transmissions during the 1918 Spanish Flu. Reykdal clearly never bothered to look at the actual research about social distancing in 1918 that leads to the exact opposite conclusion.

#3 If there is a “double bounce” in the fall it will be because his social isolation policies of shutting down schools and businesses prevented people from building up immunity to the corona virus.

This one is going to require some explanation. In 1918, the Spanish Flu experienced a larger second bounce in cities that did the most social isolation. The main deadly flu outbreak started in October and ended by December. The social isolation policies like closing schools and banning meetings in some cities went on for about four weeks – from mid-October to mid-November.

The double bounce or second wave started in January of 1919 and went on until the end of February at which time everyone became immune to the Spanish Flu and it dropped into the background of what we now call the seasonal flu. The key thing about the second wave is that it did not kill anywhere near as many people as the main hit – which killed about 4000 people in Washington state.

The second bounce in 1919 only killed an extremely small fraction of the first wave in the fall of 1918. But in places that did not impose social distancing, the 1919 second bounce did not even happen.

This difference in double bounce fatalities occurred not only in Washington state but also in stated and cities all across the nation. I studied all 43 cities and the pattern was quite predictable. Double bounces only happen in cities that demanded social isolation of shutting down schools and banning mass meetings. Note that no where in the US were more than a few businesses shut down.

For reference, the claim is that the corona virus has killed 491 people in Washington state as of April 12, 2020. Because of the way many of these death certificates were forged as required by the newly changed CDC requirements, I believe that the actual number of fatalities is about half of the reported number or about 250.

Because we are near the peak of the curve, I estimate that the total actual corona fatalities in Washington state will be about 400 or about one tenth the number of fatalities from the 1918 Spanish Flu. But even is all of the corona fatalities are correct, there will still be fewer than one thousand fatalities in Washington state – making the corona virus about one quarter as deadly as the 1918 Spanish Flu – if the population was the same. Because of our much larger population, the rate of fatalities per million will be about one tenth that of the 1918 Spanish Flu.

Because Inslee and Reykdal have used social isolation in the entire state of Washington that are many times more draconian than anything that was done in 1918, it is almost certain that the second wave or double bounce will be much larger than anything that happened in January 1919.

Assuming that the Inslee allows businesses to re-open in June, and because the human immune system works very well in the summer, I expect that the double bounce will not start until the sun goes away and the rain returns in October. No doubt school nurses will be required to run the inaccurate antibody tests on students and there will be massive numbers of false positives – even though most kids will actually not be infected by the corona virus and none of the kids in any of our schools will actually be at any risk of dying. By October, there will be some corona viral fatalities in densely populated communities – mainly at senior centers in King County. Once this happens, Reykdal will once again close the schools and Inslee will likely close businesses again and our students and their parents will be subjected to the same nightmare they are going through right now.

#4 Flu vaccines are not effective
This is one of Reykdal’s biggest errors. It does not take much research to understand that flu viruses never have worked and never will work. But Reykdal talks about a miracle vaccine at nearly every press conference. Nevertheless, after Reykdal closes the schools perhaps in October 2020, it is likely they will remain closed and we will be back to the online learning nightmare until some drug company gets approval for a miracle vaccine.

This is when the real danger to our students will begin. These new Super Vaccines are likely going to be much more powerful and much more dangerous than any vaccines that have been thus far inflicted on our kids. Our one million children will be required to be the test victims for these super vaccines that will be rushed to market without hardly any testing.

Remember that law that prevents parents from suing drug companies after their vaccines harm the kids?

I am a huge believer in the importance of public schools. But if I had to choose between giving my child an untested and dangerous vaccine or keeping him or her out of the public schools, I would keep my student out of school.

I predict that within a year, the drawbacks of the new super vaccines will become painfully obvious and they will be withdrawn. But kids who are forced to take these vaccines may suffer an entire lifetime of damage from the vaccines. As bad as online programs are, they are better than exposing your child to a deadly untested vaccine made by a drug company that can never be sued.

#5 Closing schools has never been effective in reducing flu transmission. Kids may be less at risk in schools than at home.
Certainly the grandparents will be less at risk of the kids are in school rather than being cared for by the grandparents. But in fact, there is no rational reason for closing schools due to the corona virus. The fact that Reykdal does not realize this and has not been informed of this fact by any member of his staff really makes me wonder what they are doing with their free time down in Olympia.

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#6 Online programs do not work for most kids, in most school grades and in most subjects and most learning styles.
We just covered this problem in the previous section. There is no solution to this problem. You can not just wave a magic wand and suddenly all children will do OK with online programs. In fact, online programs only work with older students, who have internet access and good computers and who have a linear learning style. Even then, it only works with certain subjects like math and science where there are only a few right answers to each question.

 

#7 Failure to provide ALL children with an education is a violation of the Washington State Constitution.

Washington state has a very unique state constitution. It is the only constitution in the nation where the education of all students is the Paramount Duty of the State.

Reykdal seems to think that educating students is secondary to keeping them safe. But that is not what the law says. It says you need to keep them safe AND provide all of them with an education.

Here is what the Washington state constitution says:

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Moreover the word all children means all children. Not merely rich students who have laptops and high speed Internet access and have a learning style that can tolerate online programs.

What’s Next?
Now that we understand the danger that our current leaders pose to our or kids and our education system, in the next chapter, we will look at the harm they are inflicted on our families and businesses.

 

Half of all low income students lacked access to a computer at home.

Sadly, the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, is not only grossly mistaken about the number of people who will be killed by the corona virus, he is also mistaken in claiming that online programs can take the place of in-school, in person instruction. This has led him to grossly underestimated the harm of closing our public schools. We will therefore devote this section to summarizing the benefits of in person instruction over online programs.

These differences include:

#1 Online Instruction only works for some age groups.

#2 Online Instruction only works for some income groups.

#3 Online instruction only works for some learning styles.

#4 Online instruction only works for some subjects.

#5 Online instruction only works for some locations.

#6 Online instruction often leads to low student engagement

#7 Online instruction greatly increases the odds of at-risk students dropping out of school.

#8 Online instruction places a huge burden on working parents – preventing parents from doing their own jobs.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these problems of online instruction (or if you prefer to think in positive terms, let’s look at the benefits of in-school, in-person instruction).

#1 Online Instruction only works for some age groups. Many child development researchers have maintained that introducing students to computer screens before the Third Grade is harmful to their cognitive, emotional, social and physical development.

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The first four years of school (Kindergarten and the first three grades) are a pivotal time when students build learning habits that will stay with them for the rest of their schooling and the rest of their life.

Elementary schools are not merely teaching these kids their ABCs and 123s. They are teaching them important social skills such as how to relate to each other and share books - and important emotional skills such as how to use words instead of fists when they have a disagreement. This important skills can not be taught on a computer. There is another problem with the early grades. There is a huge range of brain development in all classrooms right through the Fifth grade. Experienced elementary school teachers realize this and plan their learning activities with a range of options for different students in their class.

What is crucial is the direct teacher- student interaction so that the teacher can see and give immediate feedback to students and adjust learning activities on the spot to deal with individual differences in their classroom.

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#2 Online Instruction only works for some income groups.
There is a huge difference in access to computers and access to the Internet between students in lower income families and students in higher income families. The digital divide is the difference in access to technology suffered by students from poor families and low income school districts compared to students from middle class and wealthy families from higher income school districts.

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Many low income students do not have Internet access in their homes. Their parents simply cannot afford $50 to $100 per month for Internet access. These low income students therefore are at an extreme disadvantage to students who are able to access the Internet from home in terms of completing and turning in their homework assignments during evenings and weekends. For example, a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that out of America's 30 million families with school age children, nearly 20% or 5 million families lacked Internet access. This lack of Internet access was most pronounced among lower income families. Almost half of all low income homes with school aged children lacked Home Internet Access. Even one in four medium income families lacked Home Internet Access. But of those families making over $50,000 per year, over 90% had high speed Internet access in their homes. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/20/the-numbers-behind-the-broadband-homework-gap/

A similar study found that families with Home Internet access also had student access to a computer at home while low income families without Internet access also lacked student access to a computer at home. Half of all low income students lacked access to a computer at home while only 6% of middle to high income students lacked access to a computer at home. http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=home-computer-access

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In Kent, about 9 percent of students, or roughly 2,500 kids, can’t access the Internet once they go home, district surveys show. Many of them are the poorest students, the very ones district officials believe would benefit from more exposure to technology to help them catch up to their more advantaged peers.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/12/what-happens-when-kids-dont-have-internet-at-home/383680/

“It becomes a civil rights issue. Low income students are being denied equal access to knowledge and information that is part of education in the 21st century.” Edward Vargas, Superintendent of the Kent School District

Another study found that lack of home Internet access not only prevented students from completing their homework assignments – but also reduced their ability to participate in class discussions the following day. Nearly all parents recognize the need for home Internet access. However many low income families simply cannot afford the monthly cost.

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Closing the International Internet Gap
Giving every student access to a high quality fully functioning state of the art laptop only solves half of the problem. As we have already noted, half of all students from low income families in Washington state - and the rest of the United States - also lack high speed Internet access. The Internet system in the US is not only among the most expensive in the world, it is also among the slowest in the world.

It is unfair to expect our kids to compete with kids from other nations, when kids in other nations have access to a much better Internet system at a much lower price. It is like handing our kids a bicycle and expecting them to win a "Race to the Top" against kids who have been handed a race car!

Here is a chart showing the average download speed in various nations around the world.

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According to a study by the OECD, the average Internet speed in the US is about half the Internet speed in other developed nations.

http://www.oecd.org/internet/broadband/oecdbroadbandportal. html

Only it is even more unfair than this because students in the US have to pay much higher prices for Internet access than students in other nations. A 2014 study by a group called New America found that for 25 MBPS access, a modest high speed connection, the average price in the US was about $60 per month while in many nations the same service was less than $40 per month. (See below for link and next page for graph).

https://static.newamerica.org/attachments/229-the-cost-of-connectivity-2014/OTI_The_Cost_of_Connectivity_2014.pdf

What is Causing the High Prices and Low Speeds of Internet Access in the US?
There are two factors driving high Internet access prices and low Internet speeds in the US. The first is that many Internet Service Providers are granted a monopoly over local markets by corrupt government officials. With a monopoly, a corporation has no incentive to improve service or lower prices. Second, nations with the highest speeds and lowest costs have had governments that invest in building the Internet structure in their country.

This has resulted in some countries, especially Scandinavian countries, having both very high speed service and very low prices. These same countries offer students free access to high quality computers and the students in these same countries are among the highest performing students in the world on International tests.

#3 Online instruction only works for some learning styles
It has been known for more than 50 years that students can have vastly different learning styles. An experienced teacher can work directly with a student with a different learning style by giving them activities that help them learn using the learning style they are most suited to.

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Some learners are visual learners while some learners are text learners. Some learn through a global process of fitting subjects to a whole while others are linear learners and prefer tasks to be organized in a 1, 2, 3 step process. Linear learners tend to do much better in online programs than global learners because all online programs are linear in nature. Unfortunately only half of all learners are linear learners.

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#4 Online instruction only works for some subjects. Some subjects like math are linear in nature and often have only one right answer. If a student is older, and has internet access and a reasonable computer and a linear learning style, they might do well in an online math course. Others subjects like History and English are much more complex and can have more than one right answer. These subjects require real time class discussions and interactions. They are not good subjects for an online program.

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#5 Online instruction only works for some locations
Where students live also presents huge connectivity problems. Kids living in rural areas are much more likely to be unable to connect to high speed Internet from their homes.

#6 Online instruction often leads to low student engagement
Students in real schools are engaged in learning because of their direct interaction with their teacher and with other students (for example in small group project based activities). Sitting at home alone in front of a computer screen without direct contact with other students and the teacher causes students with limited attention spans to wonder off into day dreaming or playing video games.

The amount of actual on-task learning time is almost non-existent with all by the most highly motivated and self-directed students.

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Many teachers have seen class attendance drop by 50% since the move to online classes. Often the problem is that several members of a family need to use the only computer to go online at the same time.

Many students are sharing computers with several siblings, including ones home from college, along with parents trying to do full time work at home on limited internet bandwidth.

#7 Online instruction greatly increases the odds of at-risk students dropping out of school.
Not only are online programs a disaster for elementary school students, they are also a disaster for struggling, at risk older students.

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#8 Online instruction places a huge burden on working parents – preventing parents from doing their own jobs.
If the student is at home, then at least one of the parents also needs to remain home. Even for a parent that is allowed to work from home this can be a major challenge. It can be all but impossible for a parent to get their own work done when they are constantly interrupted by one of more children needing their attention.

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For all of these reasons and many more, online programs are not a substitute for real learning with real teachers in real public schools.

Perhaps the biggest problem is a failure to recognize that students are socially motivated when in school and this motivation is lost in online classes.

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Here is what one teacher said: “It feels like we are doing much, much less than what would normally happen during a day at school. The students just miss each other, they miss school, and they miss us. They are craving interaction. Many are profoundly depressed, they don’t know how to manage time and work throughout the day, many are emailing me at 12 to 4 AM saying they cannot handle the workload without the structured timing of a classroom.”

https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/29/21239567/remote-school-distance-learning-digital-internet-tech-gap-devices-access

If we care about all students getting the education they need and deserve, regardless of their family income, age or learning styles, we must re-open the public schools as soon as possible.

 

There has not been a single case of a child infecting an adult with the corona virus anywhere in the world!

Let’s take closing schools as an example of why extreme social isolation does not work. Even states and nations that refused to shut down all businesses agreed to close their schools for a few weeks. This is because schools are a major transmission path for the seasonal flu. But historically, we only closed down a school when the school itself was having a flu epidemic.

The Corona Virus School Closure were radically different because schools were closed even though not a single child in the school was sick with the Corona virus. Often, not a single child in the entire town or the entire school district was sick with the Corona virus. In many cases, not a single person in the entire county or entire state was sick with the Corona virus. Schools were simply shut down under the misguided belief that somehow closing schools would stop the transmission of the Corona virus altogether. It was “magic thinking” using a magic bullet solution.

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Not a Single Case of Child Transmission to Adults
My Master’s Degree is in Human Development. Part of human development is the extremely important role that grandparents play in the development of their grand children. I am certain that telling children that they might kill their grandparents if they see them is extremely harmful and even traumatic to small children. It is also extremely harmful to grandparents as spending time with their grandchildren is extremely important to most grandparents.

For example, just before the elementary school I was working at was shutdown in March, one of my students, a 10 year old child, came to school crying because someone told him he cannot see his grandparents any more because he might kill them. The issue was that this child lived with the grandparents because this child had no real parents. Can you see how much harm was inflicted on this child?

Before government officials deprive grandchildren of their grandparents or grandparents of their grandchildren, the government better be able to produce a mountain of evidence that the advantages of generational isolation outweighs the extreme harm of interfering with the bond between grandchildren and grandparents.

One of the reasons I was and still am opposed to closing the public schools is because almost no children even have the corona virus. Instead, there appears to be something in their immune system which stops the corona virus. Elsewhere I proposed that perhaps they simply have more healthy lungs. But whatever the reason, I found it difficult to believe that young children could be a significant transmitter of the corona virus to grandparents (or to other young children) when the young children do not even have the corona virus and seem to be well protected from ever getting infected by it.

I was therefore not surprised when, on April 22, 2020, a 45 page study was published in the UK by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health concluding that children do not pose a significant threat of transmitting the corona virus to adults. Here is a link to this very important study: https://dontforgetthebubbles.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-data-top-10.pdf

The researchers reviewed all 78 scientific studies on this subject – studies from countries around the world. They found that the infection rate in children under the age of 10 was extremely low. More important, they found that there was not a single reported case of a child under the age of 10 transmitting the virus to any adult – anywhere in the world! The report then included links to all 78 studies and summaries of all of these studies.

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At the very least, this study confirms that there is no risk at all either to children or to adults of opening back up every elementary school in the nation.

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I also believe we should open up the middle schools and high schools. But the study did not address the question of transmission rates in older children. So next, we will look at other studies to analyze that question.

Scientific Research on School Closures and Transmission Rates
We should also look at the scientific research on school closures to better understand the actual effect of school closures on viral flu outbreaks. As noted earlier, there was one study with actual evidence on the effects of school closure. It was a comparison of a school closure in Hong Kong one year to when schools were not closed in a different year. The study “ detected no significant effect of school closure on influenza spread in this outbreak.”

Here is the link: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(09)70176-8/fulltext#back-bib4

Below is a graph comparing the flu illnesses in the closure year (2007) to the non-closure year (2008):

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It is pretty obvious that the closure did not effect the total number of infections.

Here is a quote from the conclusions of the study: “The results of this current study revealed that it is not necessary to implement school closure in an influenza outbreak. The effectiveness of school closure for 1, 2, or 3 weeks was worse than no intervention, with similar Transmission Rates but longer period of time to the end of the epidemic. Moreover, the school curriculum would be disrupted by the prolonged closure, and families would be burdened with the care of their children and any resultant educational problems. In conclusion, isolation, as a single intervention, was the most effective in terms of reducing the total attack rate and the duration of the influenza outbreak in schools.” https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0300060518764268

The next study was a study of interventions in an elementary school in Pennsylvania during the 2009 Swine Flu Epidemic. This study found that the greatest transmission rates occurred between students that were in the same class and that were the same gender. There appears to be “incidents” of infection that may have occurred outside of the classroom – for example, by boys playing ball together on the playground or sitting in close proximity in the school cafeteria during lunch or sharing snacks.

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Surprisingly, sitting next to a sick child in a classroom was not found to significantly increase the risk of transmission. However, the highest transmission rates occurred outside of school and were in households with more than one child. School closure was found to have no effect on the transmission rate, total illnesses or length of epidemic.

Health Drawbacks of Closing Schools
When we close schools, poor students may not get enough to eat. Schools have responded to this problem with a “Grab and Go” program where folks can drive up to a central location and grab a meal to go. The problem with this plan is that many poor kids and their parents do not have access to a car to go get the meal. Thus, many poor kids will still go hungry. This in turn harms their immune system making them more likely not only to get corona virus but also get sick from the normal flu that is likely to already be inside of them.

King County Health Officials Seem to Have Been Aware of the Drawbacks of Closing Schools
On March 4, 2020, Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health for Seattle and King County gave a press conference in which she seemed to be aware that closing schools had no advantages and many drawbacks. https://www.seattleweekly.com/news/we-will-get-through-this-officials-discuss-coronavirus-at-wednesday-press-conference/

Here is what she said: Patty Hayes, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County, shared measures meant to slow the spread of the virus. She clarified that the measures are recommendations rather than mandates. It is being advised that people determined to be vulnerable (e.g., compromised immune systems, those 60 and over, those with underlying medical conditions) try to stay home and keep away from large groups as much as possible.

Officials are still advocating against school closures. Children, unless with a compromised immune system, have not been shown to be an especially at-risk group. Additionally, it has been found that during past pandemics, such as the H1N1 outbreak of 2009, school closures resulted in more disruption.

Patty expanded on these comments in an article published in the LA Times on March 6, 2020: “Keeping children out of school could increase the risk that they would infect older people, who are far more vulnerable to the virus. When we close a school, children have to go somewhere. So if you think about families, who often are the caregivers, it might be grandma, grandpa and elderly members of the family, the exact people that we’re concerned about.”

Dr. Jeff Duchin, a Seattle and King County public health officer, agreed with Hayes, stating:

“Officials learned the disadvantages of closing schools during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic a decade ago. We closed schools during H1N1 and we saw tremendous community disruption. During that outbreak in 2009-10, officials found that keeping children out of school meant that many parents, including health workers needed to care for patients, had to stay home.”

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-06/university-washington-coronavirus-school-closure

A few days after making these comments, the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction decided to close every school in the state – including closing schools that did not have a single case of the corona virus. The schools in Washington state have been closed ever since – severely harming more than one million children and their families.

What’s Next?
The Superintendent’s new plan is to convert all the schools into online programs. In the next section, we will present evidence that his new plan is doomed to failure – further harming our kids and their families.