Parents have profound concerns over the guidance, initiatives and considerations for opening schools published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in May 2020. Very simply, they create a restricted learning environment that promotes isolation of children from their peers while forcing healthy individuals to wear a mask. Implementing these recommendations would not only destroy schools financially, it would prevent special needs programs from effectively providing services. Autism-related programs where children need to be encouraged to interact with others will not be able to operate with social distancing measures in place. Services such as speech therapy and occupational therapy would be greatly impacted by an inability to see the movement of the mouth or to physically guide a student for fine motor instruction. Social distancing and wearing cloth face coverings day-in and day-out, especially for all younger children in their formative years, will leave psychological and social damage that will undoubtedly last for years.
Furthermore, these measures will cause families who are unwilling to expose their children to these forms of social isolation to consider homeschooling or to leave their employment to support their child’s educational needs. A loss of enrollment will cause further financial loss to our schools, which have already taken a blow from the economic shutdown.
Most importantly, to date there are no studies or cases of documented asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19, and the World Health Organization recently confirmed that asymptomatic transmission is “rare.” It has also been noted that children and individuals outside of at-risk categories have little to no chance of risk from COVID-19 complications. The latest data demonstrates that the COVID-19 case fatality rate is at 0.26%, which is akin to a bad seasonal flu — and significantly below the original estimates of a 4% to 10% fatality rate (source: https://tinyurl.com/y7ebjnvn).
In her June 18, 2020 ‘Update to Schools’ letter, Illinois State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala stated (source: https://tinyurl.com/y8crebbd), “Having been a district superintendent in Illinois, I understand the urgency of getting clarity and direction out to all of you as quickly as possible. At the same time, the stakes have never been higher for our guidance to adhere to the best and most current science and data. Meeting this standard has meant deep collaboration with public health experts.”
However, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Office of the Governor have not confirmed and have been unable to produce ANY findings from the CDC to support the theory that (a) healthy people wearing cloth face coverings prevents the spread of illness; (b) forced separation of individuals slows transmission; and (c) asymptomatic transmission of illness occurs. In other words, there is NO evidence or scientific data to support that the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health have based their guidelines on science or medical evidence. Thus, these guidelines/considerations, on which Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education are basing their guidance, are founded on inconclusive assumptions with NO reputable peer-reviewed studies to support them.
Clearly, the data that is now available does not merit the dramatic response being proposed for schools.
It’s time to make your voice heard now! Take action below by emailing your elected officials, including the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Illinois State Board of Education and its Superintendent, Dr. Carmen Ayala. Let them know that the CDC’s guidelines are not evidence-based and hurt learning.
If you have a personal perspective to share as a teacher, student, parent or concerned citizen, please add it to the top section above the provided message. You can also edit the subject line and the pre-drafted message as needed. Additionally, if these measures would cause you to pull your child from the Illinois school system — or if you are a school employee considering leaving your position as a result of the measures — be sure to mention that in your message.
Note: For more detailed information, please consult:
CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening Up Again