In a press conference a year into his presidency, President Biden claimed that “very few schools are closing.” But is it true that very few schools are closing because of Covid-era policies?
False. Completely make believe.
Perhaps the President is technically correct that few schools are closing because of widespread, severe Covid illnesses, but thousands of schools have been closed each week in January because of Covid-era policies. Teachers union work actions and over zealous school district policies that result in staff shortages have closed thousands of schools across the country throughout this month.
Schools districts have been slow to adopt the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) revised recommendation that teachers and staff who test positive for Covid only quarantine for five days, rather than ten, and many districts impose onerous testing requirements on staff and students, resulting in staff shortages when tests aren’t available and test results are delayed. In addition, school districts have been slow to adjust the Covid metrics that trigger school closures to reflect the reality of the more easily transmissible, but less severe, Omicron variant. Until recently, the Philadelphia school district, for example, was closing schools when just three percent of the school population tested positive.
According to Burbio’s K-12 School Opening Tracker, over 7,000 schools closed last week due to Covid policies and over 3,400 closed this week. Burbio tracks pandemic-related school disruptions to in-person instruction, and does not include closures due to weather. Those closure numbers are pretty high, especially when we acknowledge that Burbio only actively monitors “5,000 school districts representing over 70% of the US K-12 student enrollment.” There are 14,000 school districts in the United States. So the website’s tracker, although very helpful, is not capturing the extent of the closures.
In a speech given on December 21, 2021, Biden said, “We don’t have to shut down schools because of covid-19. We can keep our K-12 schools open. That’s exactly what we should be doing.”
Unfortunately teachers unions and school district bureaucrats had other plans.