We are quickly getting past the midpoint of summer. Schools will re-open in just five or six weeks. It’s time to take the masks off our kids. With mitigation measures, COVID is not much of a risk them and they are not a risk to us. There is little scientific reason to have masks in schools, especially among vaccinated kids, and certainly no scientific reason to keep them closed. 

According an article in Nature, a North Carolina study shows that spread by children in schools is almost non-existent:

“One of the largest studies1 on COVID-19 in schools in the United States looked at more than 90,000 pupils and teachers in North Carolina over 9 weeks last autumn. Given the rate of transmission in the community, ‘we would have expected to see about 900 cases’ in the schools, says Daniel Benjamin, a pediatrician at Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina, and co-lead author on the study. But when the researchers conducted contact tracing to identify school-related transmissions, they identified only 32 cases.”

Those findings are supported by other studies, too, so if Democrats are going to follow the science, they need to be sending their kids to schools and without masks for vaccinated kids. Schools are actually safer than other places, even for teachers. In schools, people are surrounded by people who don’t get as sick with the disease and don’t spread it easily, either. In short, schools are safe spaces. 

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t watch the virus and adjust accordingly. The Delta variant may prove to change the equation a bit. Cases are spiking in Missouri and Arkansas as well as in Europe, mostly among unvaccinated young people. Apparently, some kids are getting it, so we need to watch it. Masks are still necessary for the unvaccinated. The vaccine is widely available and people who get it are remarkable well protected. People who don’t are helping the virus spread. For that, you can thank Republicans and ignorance.

If people want to live without protection, we should not punish the rest of the population. At this point, the only thing that’s going to get vaccine-hesitant people to get a shot is watching their loved ones get sick or die. It’s a hard lesson, but one that Fox News and the GOP are insisting their conspiracy-addled base learns. 

In North Carolina, the number of people getting vaccinated is stagnating. Only 56% of people over 12 have at least one shot. Fortunately, 85% of the people over 65, the most vulnerable segment of the population, is protected, so hospitalizations and deaths will be lower. However, as summer wears off and the Delta variant moves in, places where vaccinations are low will see infections, hospitalizations, and deaths rise. The worst places hit will be the counties that voted most heavily for Donald Trump. 

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