Reach opinions reliable data

We have often been told that we should take science seriously whether it be convenient or not. I agree. I am concerned that much discussion surrounding opening schools given COVID-19 is based on fear or speculation and does not refer to known science. Science should inform decisions about closing schools or opening them in traditional or modified form.

Let me give an example of how this might be done. According to the CDC, the number of 5-14 year-old U.S. children who have died from COVID-19 is 16 out of 41 million children in this group.

Perhaps a comparable risk is bicycle accident deaths of 90 deaths among 0-20 year-olds during 2018. While each death is tragic, if schools are closed due to COVID-19, should bicycle riding also be prohibited in order to be consistent? Prior to COVID-19 we accepted numerous risks in living our lives. COVID-19 is another one to be managed.

Of course, there is also the important issue of transmission of COVID-19 to teachers. Fortunately, a recent study of Swedish teachers (open schools) to those in Finland (closed schools) as well other active professions in Sweden ( provides little evidence that Swedish teachers in the classroom were at any greater risk than others.

Finally, any argument should consider what might be lost by children if they are no longer in either traditional or modified classroom environments this year. The Economist (July 18) listed several issues including increased child abuse, poorer mental health and shorter lives.

In my age group, significant precautions against COVID-19 are appropriate; perhaps less so (though certainly not zero) for children including my grandchildren in schools or daycare.

Others may read data differently and reach different conclusions. I only ask that these opinions be reached using real, reliable data from science.

Robert Olsen


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