By Randy DeSoto
The look on MSNBC host Craig Melvin’s face when all the doctors interviewed by sister network NBC News for a story said they would send their kids back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic says so much.
As Melvin introduced the segment Monday featuring an NBC News story by medical correspondent Dr. John Torres, he stressed the importance of hearing from public health experts regarding the issue of reopening schools.
Torres began the piece by saying the network reached out to five pediatricians from around the country to get their thoughts.
Those interviewed included California Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, New Jersey Dr. Shilpa A. Patel, Vermont Dr. William V. Raszka, New York Dr. Jennifer Lighter and Tennessee Dr. Buddy Creech, and all offered the same assessment: It is safe to put kids back in the classroom.
“In the U.S., children make up about 22 percent of the population, but kids account for only 2 percent of coronavirus cases so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” NBC News reported.
Creech, an associate professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told Torres it is not clear what accounts for the disparity between children and adults.
“This has been a strange pandemic because usually for respiratory viruses, children are the first and the most substantially affected,” he said.
“This has really been a flip of that, where it’s our adults, and particularly our older adults, that have been more affected.”
Raszka, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine, said children are not good spreaders of the virus to adults, either.
“The younger you are, probably the less likely you are to be able to transmit the disease,” he said.
“Once you get to high school age, you’re going to be a little bit more concerned, [and] once you’re in college age, you’re going to be a lot concerned,” Raszka added.
Torres asked all the doctors straight out, “Would you let your kids go back to school?”
“I will. My kids are looking forward to it,” Patel said.
“Yes, period, absolutely,” Raszka replied.
“Absolutely. As much as I can,” Lighter said.
Torres followed up, “Without a hesitation?”
“Without a hesitation, yes,” she said.
“I would let my kids go back to school,” Maldonado answered.
And Creech rounded the 5-0 score by saying, “I have no concerns about sending my child to school in the fall.”
After the segment aired, a shocked Melvin looked into the camera and said, with what sounded a little like chagrin in his voice, “They all said yes.”
CNBC reported that a German study released this week found that young people do not play a significant role in transmitting the coronavirus.
The medical faculty of the TU Dresden and University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus tested approximately 1,500 students and 500 teachers in May for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in their blood.
“The results showed that out of 2,045 blood samples collected from students and teachers from across 13 secondary schools in the region only 12 samples were found to contain antibodies against Covid-19,” the report said.
Further, 24 of the participants in the study had at least one known case of coronavirus in their households, yet only one of these participants was found to have the antibodies.
The study concluded that schools did not become coronavirus “hotspots” after reopening, as some feared would happen.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany rightly argued during a media briefing Thursday that the science is on the side of kids going back to school.
President Donald Trump wants schools to open, “and when he says open, he means open in full, kids being able to attend each and every day,” she said.
Trump has been right in his push to get kids back in the classroom.
It is a policy grounded in not only what’s best for kids and the country on multiple levels, but also science.