On January 21, 2022, the Albany Times Union published the Letter to the Editor set out below by NYPER science consultant Robert A. Michaels captioned In-person schooling is not without risks.
Dr. Michaels' Letter to the Editor is set out below:
In-person schooling is not without risks
With surging COVID-19, New York City Mayor Eric Adams defended his policy of retaining in-person schooling: “Fear not sending them back. … The safest place for children is inside a school.” This statement might have a grain of truth, but it should be taken with a shaker full of salt.
With in-person instruction, students and teachers bring risks from home to school. Then they return home and mingle with their families and neighbors. Adams failed to consider this home-school synergy. In-person instruction imposes school risks, even if low, on the full home-plus-school population.
This raises the civics issue of the proper relationship of science and policy. Adams must make COVID-19 policies, such as in-person schooling. He reasonably might balance infection risks versus social and economic risks. He should not, however, base policies on invalid science.
School risks, as Adams said, might be lower than home risks, but they would be zero if instruction were remote. In-person schooling poses an incremental COVID-19 infection risk. Even if low, it must be applied to the full school-plus-home population that will bear it.
In short, policy should comport with science, even if it is not solely determined by science.
ROBERT A. MICHAELS
Also cited on the Internet by ResearchGate at: