Letter: Data suggests in-class instruction best path forward



As we approach the 2020-21 school year, many parents are increasingly concerned about how Carmel schools will operate in the coming year in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, the past three months have provided us with an opportunity to learn a little more about this virus so that we can use data to inform decision-making. And thus far, the best available data suggests the risk for children as both symptomatic patients and carriers of the virus is minimal — which in turn suggests that a bias toward in-class instruction, with minimal restrictions, is the optimal path forward. Below is a summary of the data that supports this viewpoint:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data estimates an infection fatality rate of .037 percent for those under the age of 50 (derived by taking the CDC estimate of .05 percent fatality for symptomatic individuals, combined with their estimate that 35 percent of cases are asymptomatic). In other words, kids are not seriously threatened by this virus, nor are the majority of teachers.
  • Although transmission is not fully understood, evidence suggests children are not meaningful vectors of contagion. A study conducted by China and the World Health Organization utilizing rigorous contact tracing revealed that not a single instance of transmission from a child to an adult has occurred.

From this perspective, hindrances that we place on children — such as requiring them to be in masks, strict enforcement of social distancing and heavy reliance on e-Learning — may be causing more harm than good. I hope that Carmel Clay Schools will consider this evidence and ask themselves if “the new normal” for kids really should be the same as the old normal: A vibrant school life involving rich, in-person interaction with peers so that collaborative learning, friendship, community and health can all thrive. 

Simit Patel, Carmel