The Atlantic Daily: The Politics of School Reopening

Millions of kids don’t know when they’ll set foot in a classroom again.

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America still doesn’t have a plan to safely reopen its schools. Earlier today, President Donald Trump criticized the CDC’s guidelines on Twitter, calling them “very tough” and “expensive.” Now the agency reportedly says it will put out new recommendations next week.

Parents of school-age children, meanwhile, remain in limbo, juggling work and care. What went wrong here? Is a better fall possible? Our writers weigh in:

America treated reopening schools like an afterthought.

“The lingering uncertainty about whether in-person education will resume isn’t the result of malfeasance, but utter nonfeasance,” Juliette Kayyem argues. “Four months of stay-at-home orders have proved that, if schools are unavailable, a city cannot work, a community cannot function, a nation cannot safeguard itself.”

Does keeping schools closed do more harm than good?

Some public-health experts think so. “They believe the hazards should be weighed against the costs of changing children’s lives so dramatically,” Olga Khazan reports.

Parents need answers. Now.

Emily Oster, an economist at Brown University, started compiling data on child care out of frustration. “If countries with open schools simply reported the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per school each week—if any—that would do wonders,” she argues.


Two questions about children and the coronavirus

1. Are kids really spared from the virus?

“Some children are having a delayed immune reaction after getting infected,” James Hamblin explains in his latest “Paging Dr. Hamblin” column. “The extent of the condition is just coming into view.”

2. What happens when kids don’t see their peers for months?

Lydia Denworth reports:

Even kids of the same age have different interests, needs, and personalities, and their responses to quarantine will be different too. Some children who dealt with bullying or social anxiety prior to the pandemic might have found social distancing to be a relief. … But others with mental-health issues or a less-than-happy home environment are more likely to suffer from being out of school or camp.

Have an outstanding question related to kids and this outbreak? Let us know.

What to read if … you want practical tips:

What to read if … you’re seeking a soundtrack to this strange summer:

Turn to the Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke’s posthumous debut album. “In a moment of tremendous political and social turmoil, [Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon] offers listeners catharsis,” our critic Hannah Giorgis writes. Read her review.

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