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The end of the pandemic is nigh. Americans continue to get vaccinated at a rapid clip. Life will be moving on. Except, it seems, for children. For more than a year, they have suffered from irrational, unscientific and downright superstitious policies inflicted upon them by adults — and there is no end in sight.
In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance that three-foot social distancing suffices in schools, instead of the usual six. Yet in many localities where teachers unions wield power, schools still didn’t fully reopen. In New York City, schools have reopened on a (very) part-time basis in large part owing to the debunked six-foot rule.
United Federation of Teachers boss Michael Mulgrew immediately balked at the guidance, calling it “strange” and saying the union would consult with its own experts. But the real question is: Why do kids even need to socially distance at all?
Many places in Europe, including Britain, as well as some schools across America, long ago scrapped social-distancing requirements for kids. They opened their schools and kept them open. That’s because research has repeatedly showed that children are at minuscule risk from the disease and also transmit it a much lower rate than do adults.
We also need to cut it out with the masking of kids. Let’s notice that every video of a 2-year-old being escorted off an airplane for not wearing a mask is set in America. On European flights, masks are required for ages 6 and up. You can’t reason with a 2-year-old. (Trust me, I’ve tried.) And while masking 6-year-olds still seems unnecessary and should hopefully end soon, it’s saner than sticking one on a toddler.
In November, Maria van Kerkhove, head of the World Health Organization’s emerging-diseases unit, clarified that “for children under 6 years old, we don’t recommend the use of masks.” This, she said, was “for many reasons — because of the way children are developing” and because enforcing adherence is a fool’s errand. She added: “Between 6 [and] 11, we recommend taking a risk-based approach depending on where the children are, the types of activities they are doing.”
Yet last week, YouTube removed a video of scientists from places like Stanford saying much the same to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Google-owned video service called it “medical misinformation.” This, even though last April, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcocki said her site would interdict “anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations.” In this case, it’s YouTube itself that was contradicting WHO.
My kids — ages 4, 7 and 10 at the time — all played sports in Brooklyn last fall while masked. Watching a 4-year-old chase a soccer ball down a field while masked, or a 10-year-old masked while standing on the pitcher’s mound no fewer than 15 feet from the nearest person, challenged my sanity.
Because it’s crazy. And unnecessary.
There is a specific reason other developed nations treats children differently than adults, and it seems hard for the coronavirus hysterics to accept: Again, COVID-19 largely doesn’t affect children.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), caused a stir when he said last August that “seasonal flu is actually, in many cases, a deadlier virus if [kids] contract that” — a claim that Politifact was forced to rate “mostly true.” It’s actually completely true, and if this is surprising news, it’s because the CDC, virus guru Dr. Anthony Fauci and the media at large have failed to tell the truth about COVID’s risks to children and the risks of children spreading it to adults.
We need to internalize that the scientific truth — and let kids move on.
With the grown-ups vaccinated, it’s time to back off the kids. More than a year of their lives has been needlessly on pause. Enough. No more masks, no more distancing, no more pretending that this virus is harmful to children when it clearly isn’t.
Open all the schools, full-time. Let the kids play sports, and let’s never again make the mistakes we made in the last year.
Children will be feeling the repercussions of those mistakes for years. We disregarded science and let hysteria grip us. Take that mask off, son.
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