Expert: Hybrid School Plan Is ‘Probably Among The Worst’ Options
A few weeks ago, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was very clear about the importance of getting kids back into the classroom as soon as possible. His comments appear to be lost in the wave of COVID naysayers who want to see school years canceled, but it turns out he may not be alone.
Studies from European countries who have reopened their schools back up research that indicates school aged children are likely not the "super spreaders" of COVID some feared. Countries like Sweden did not experience the kind of COVID outbreak some believe will happen when American schools restart. Which all follow what Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the Director of the CDC explained last month.
Now another leading medical expert in the United States is sharing his views of school reopening.
Dr. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, joined WGHB for an interview on school reopening late last week. During the interview, Dr. Hanage appeared to surprise the host by expressing the need to get kids back into schools, and for schools to avoid the so called "hybrid" plan that most schools are pursuing.
During the interview, Dr. Hanage brought up the evidence in European countries based on their school reopening:
"...if you look at the sort of places which have managed to do this well, which include various countries like Denmark and Finland, you can see that it is possible to reopen schools for younger kids and there's actually very little evidence of transmission. And I'll return to that because of the fact that there is a very good comparison between Sweden and Finland."
He explained that the evidence shows that it would be safe to get younger age groups into the classroom as soon as possible:
"I think that it is possible that we might be able to do in-class education close to full-time for some age groups because, as I said, the under 10-year-old age group is much less likely to be affected badly, and there's also some evidence that they're less likely to transmit."
But he really surprised the host when he explained how poor of an idea "hybrid" learning is:
"The thing I would like to mention now is that one of the things on the table is the possibility of a hybrid model in which people spend some time at school and in some remote learning. Now, the difficulty with that from an epidemiological point of view is the number of contacts which get generated. So if kids are in school two days a week and then the other three days a week they are at home, the parents are probably going to end up having to seek child care from somewhere else. That means the child is making a new contact they would not have made otherwise, and that just provides another chance for the child to become infected and then bring it into the school.
So I actually think that the hybrid model is probably among the worst that we could be putting forward, if our goal is to stop the virus getting into schools."
The host almost seemed applaud that Dr. Hanage would critique the concept that most schools are pursuing. Even schools across Louisiana are planning the "hybrid" model, which could create an issue for a state that's still dealing with extensions to the reopening plans.