Lie #1: Children are less susceptible to infection and don’t develop serious symptoms from COVID-19
Nearly 180,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported in children between July 9 to August 6. This is a 90 percent increase in total cases among children in just four weeks. Nearly 100,000 children in the US tested positive for COVID-19 in just the last two weeks of July, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children were 0.5 to 5.3 percent of total reported hospitalizations, depending on the state and age.
When children are hospitalized, one in three need the ICU, which is as often as adults. Six percent of these need ventilators. Since May, at least 90 children have died from COVID-19 across the US, many with no preexisting conditions.
Lie #2: Children rarely transmit COVID-19
Recent, comprehensive studies with large sample sizes conducted in the US, Italy and South Korea each concluded that children transmit COVID-19 more readily than adults. One of the studies, from Chicago, found that babies and young children infected with the virus can carry viral loads in their throats and airways up to 100 times greater than adults. The spread of the deadly disease in Israel has been largely attributed to the reopening of schools.
Lie #3: Schools can be reopened “safely”
A recent study from the University of Florida confirmed that an infective aerosolized form of minute COVID-19 particles can become airborne and travel 16 feet or more, well beyond the recommended six feet for social distancing. These aerosols can also remain suspended in the air for hours in poorly ventilated spaces.
As a result, every school bus and classroom will become a dangerous confined setting even with temperature screenings, masks and efforts to social distance. The Government Accountability Office recently found that 41 percent of school districts need to update or replace the ventilation systems in at least half of their schools, involving a total of 36,000 school buildings.
All of the latest science makes clear that reopening schools will be an unmitigated catastrophe. Last month, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany succinctly presented the outlook of the ruling class toward the pandemic when she declared that “science should not stand in the way” of the drive to reopen schools.
Obsessed solely with the impact of the pandemic on the stock market, Trump and state Democrats and Republicans did nothing as the deadly virus spread in early March. Only the collective action of workers, including a series of wildcat strikes in defiance of the unions launched by autoworkers, meatpackers, logistics workers and others, along with demands by New York City teachers to close the schools, led to the official statewide lockdowns. It has been proven that this saved tens of thousands of lives.
Once again, it is up to the working class to take emergency action. The Educators Rank-and-File Safety Committee is fighting to unite all workers—educators, school bus drivers, janitors, maintenance workers and other support staff, with manufacturing, health care, logistics, grocery and food processing, retail and restaurant workers—to carry out a nationwide general strike to prevent the reopening of schools and save lives.
In waging this struggle, we adopt the following demands which we urge all workers to fight for:
For the immediate closure of all public, private and charter schools! This is non-negotiable. It is impossible to “safely” open schools during a raging pandemic. The loss of life and the permanent physical and emotional damage to children who spread the disease to teachers, parents and grandparents dwarfs any disruption caused by online learning.
Full funding for public education, internet access and online instruction! The trillions handed over to the rich must be redistributed to provide universal access to high-speed internet, food security, mental health care, special education support and all other resources needed to provide the best quality remote learning for every student and educator. These programs must be expedited in rural areas, Native American reservations and the most impoverished working-class neighborhoods, which the ruling class has left to rot for decades.
Full income protection to all parents and caregivers who stay home with their children! Educators are not oblivious to the needs of parents, as the corporate-controlled politicians are. That is why the money handed over to the rich must be used to provide full income to those who cannot work because they must stay home with their children. At the same time, full unemployment benefits must be restored and funding increased to protect families, and a permanent moratorium put in place to stop all evictions and home foreclosures.
No loss of income for educators who choose to stay home! Teachers and education workers who refuse to work in unsafe conditions must be provided with full income and benefits for the duration of the pandemic, not fined and penalized. Nearly 1.5 million teachers, or one in four, have a condition that puts them at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
For free speech and the protection of whistleblowers! All those who speak out against unsafe working conditions—whether in schools, factories, warehouses, hospitals or offices—must be defended against any victimization by employers or state officials. All workers who have been victimized must be rehired with back pay.
Halt all nonessential production! Until the pandemic is contained, only key industries such as food production, medical care and logistics should remain open. Workers in those industries must be provided with the most advanced safety measures to prevent infection. All nonessential workers and laid-off workers must be provided with full unemployment benefits and access to free health care.
— Read on www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/08/15/rank-a15.html