Wentzville Schools Plan on Starting Back Up In August

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In times of the pandemic, we have to look at the facts in order to decide whether or not it is good for schools to open.

Nick Sauers, Writer

Now that a summer full of mask wearing and many people social distancing is coming to a close, one big question still remains: What should we do about school? 

There are many different points of view on this particular issue. Many schools across our country have already decided that virtual learning is the best path due to better social distancing practices. However, before we answer the big question, we must first ask ourselves: how much of a real threat is COVID-19?

Let us start by exploring COVID-19 fatalities in St. Charles County, in order to understand whether or not Wentzville Schools are at risk. As of July 16, 2020, there are only 79 COVID-19 deaths confirmed in St. Charles County, according to cdc.gov. If we take into account that the St. Charles County population as of 2019 is approximately 402,022, we can divide 79 by 402,022 and multiply by 100 to get the death rate in this county. The current death rate, according to these numbers is about 0.01 percent. If we take into account that nearly 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths occur in people age 65 and older, this means that only about 15 to 20 of these deaths in St. Charles County have occurred in people under the age of 65, which encompasses the majority of the people who would be at school anyway.

Next, we have to look at how different age groups are affected by COVID. Referring to data on cdc.gov about nationwide COVID-19 deaths by age, people ages 0-24 seem to be the least affected by the virus. In fact, people ages 0-44 have lost less than a thousand people every week since the start of COVID, compared to people age 85 and older, who have lost as much as 5 thousand people in a given week. Also looking at this data, we can see that no age group (each group representing every ten years or so) has exceeded since the week of June 27. Compared to the months of April and May, the COVID-19 death rate is actually decreasing dramatically for all age groups.

Students in school seem nearly unaffected by this virus. According to osf.io/wdbpe/, the infection fatality rate (IFR) of COVID-19 for people ages 5-9 is less than 0.002 percent. Similarly, the IFR for people ages 10-19 barely rises above 0.0003 percent. In fact, the average IFR for all ages is only about 0.64 percent in the US. With the exception for people 65 and older (5.6 percent IFR), every separate age group has an IFR that is less than 0.2 percent. 

What about the teachers? Information from ED.gov suggests that both the average and median ages of teachers in Missouri is about 40 years of age, so the majority of teachers would be almost just as safe as the students. If a teacher is older and feels unsafe because of higher risk of death from the virus, that teacher should feel free to teach online classes, as long as they can work out a time that fits the schedule of the students and is willing to pay for a supervisor to ensure that the class is on task.

If the schools are worried about a child catching the virus and bringing it home to their parents, multiple tests can be observed that conclude that children do not spread the virus very easily. A study was conducted from March 10 to April 10, 2020, in which all children admitted to Geneva University Hospital who were officially diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) were monitored and every household contact was recorded. However, only eight percent of households tested also experienced signs of the virus after contact with the infected child. In the other 92 percent of households, the adult actually was proven to have spread the virus to the child, suggesting that adults are much more likely to spread the virus than children.

According to businessinsider.com, a study in New South Wales kept track of students at 15 schools during the months of March and April. The study focused on nine students and nine teachers who had been officially diagnosed with COVID-19. A total of 863 people came in close contact with at least one of these people and as a result, only two of these people had gotten infected by the virus. Both of these tests show that children do not generally spread the virus to each other and rarely spread it to adults.

As presented with statistics and facts above, COVID-19 does not pose a threat to the general population that would occupy schools. If children and middle-aged teachers are not being harmed, children do not usually spread the disease, and St. Charles has not experienced many deaths, there seems to be nothing to be afraid of concerning allowing students to attend Wentzville schools starting in August.

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