They demanded Americans “follow the science!” They silenced dissenters. And, ultimately, they sacrificed an entire generation of children.
More than two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers are in on school closure policies. Students are worse off academically in areas with extended school lockdowns, schoolchildren’s mental health is suffering, and low income students are hardest hit.
Critics blasted President Joe Biden blasted Wednesday for a tone deaf tweet blaming “the pandemic” for the academic crisis in America.
“Due to the pandemic, kids are behind in math and reading,” Biden said.
But as many pointed out, it was ultimately the capitulation of the Biden administration and health experts to the teachers’ unions who ducked behind so-called “science” in advocating for disastrous school closure policies that caused the current crisis in schools nationwide.
“I can fix this for you. ‘Due to school closures, teachers unions’ unreasonable demands that were wrongly acquiesced to, and bad CDC mask policies, kids are behind in math and reading,'” Reason’s Liz Wolfe wrote in response to Biden’s tweet.
“Overall, we find considerable declines in math and ELA pass rates for students in Grades 3–8 in Spring 2021, and these declines were larger in school districts with less in-person instruction,” one report found. (RELATED: ‘Strictest, Most Thorough’: China Pledges To Make Shanghai Suffer Even More Under Its ‘Zero-COVID’ Policy)
The report also found that standardized test scores declined the most in areas with a high percentage of black students.
In 2020, the number of mental health-related emergency department (ED) visits increased by 31% compared to the rate in 2019, before the pandemic began and restrictions were implemented, according to the CDC.
“During February 21–March 20, 2021, suspected suicide attempt ED visits were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12–17 years than during the same period in 2019,” the CDC reported.
A Harvard study found that lower income districts that went remote were hit the hardest.
“In districts that went remote, achievement growth was lower for all subgroups, but especially for students attending high-poverty schools,” the Harvard study found.
Teachers unions bear much of the blame for widespread school closure policies. And the Biden Administration and Democrat politicians have capitulated to their demands time and again.
Emails obtained by the watchdog group Americans for Public Trust in September showed The National Education Association (NEA) teachers union bullying the Biden Administration into supporting their preferred school closure policies.
05/13: The CDC said fully vaccinated Americans could stop wearing masks.
05/14: The Biden Admin begged the NEA to not release a statement critical of the CDC.
05/14: The CDC called the teachers unions and @rweingarten.
05/15: The guidance was updated.https://t.co/CbreGOQjlL
— Americans for Public Trust (@apublictrust) September 8, 2021
A day after the CDC announced on May 13 that fully vaccinated individuals could stop wearing masks, the White House director of labor engagement Erika Dinkel-Smith said she had gotten the NEA to, “hold on their statement calling for clarification,” according to emails obtained by Fox News. The teachers union was concerned about what the new masking recommendation would mean for schools. Smith requested a meeting between Director Rochelle Walensky and NEA President Becky Pringle, and the statement ultimately released by the NEA was much less harsh. On May 15, the CDC updated its guidance to recommend that everyone should still wear a mask in schools.
In May, the New York Post reported that The American Federation of Teachers had lobbied the CDC on their school reopening policy. (RELATED: ‘There’s A Tempest Brewing’: CNN Panel Says Biden Administration Must Choose Between Science And Unions)
“Thank you again for Friday’s rich discussion about forthcoming CDC guidance and for your openness to the suggestions made by our president, Randi Weingarten, and the AFT,” Kelly Trautner, AFT’s senior director, wrote in February.
“We were able to review a copy of the draft guidance document over the weekend and were able to provide some initial feedback to several staff this morning about possible ways to strengthen the document,” Trautner said in the emails, obtained by Americans for Public Trust.
Little to no mention of “science” was made in the course of this collusion between health experts and teachers unions, yet Americans were assured it was indeed the science that backed massive school closures. In fact, school officials told Americans they were racists if they supported schools reopening.
A San Diego school board member said that reopening schools to allow in-person instruction was nothing less than, “white supremacist ideology.” The Chicago teachers union said the movement to reopen schools was, “rooted in sexism, racism, and misogyny.”
The academic devastation brought on by pandemic lockdowns in schools was felt across states. Data released by the California Department of Education showed that 60% of black, Latino and economically disadvantaged students in the state did not meet English standards and 80% did not meet math standards. The Michigan Department of Education released data that showed that standardized test scores in math dropped for students from their pre-pandemic scores in three through 8th as well as 11th grade. In Maryland, 85% of students tested were not proficient in math, and 76% were not proficient in English Language Arts. Test scores in Washington dropped 20 points below pre-pandemic scores.
Young children living through the pandemic lockdowns now lack basic life skills, such as cutting along a dotted line with scissors or twisting a plastic cap off and on, The Washington Post reported.
And it’s not as if American health officials were without credible examples of alternative school policies that maintained a semblance of normalcy for school children yet did not result in a massive amount of deaths. A February 2021 study found that Sweden, which kept its schools open during the pandemic, saw 15 children admitted to the ICU, and zero children die of COVID.
“Despite Sweden’s having kept schools and preschools open, we found a low incidence of severe Covid-19 among schoolchildren and children of preschool age during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic,” The New England Journal of Medicine study found.
The social and academic effects of widespread school closures throughout the pandemic will be felt for years to come. The data available so far is only the beginning. Despite insistence from health officials that their COVID lockdown policies were strictly rooted in scientific analysis, the evidence suggests that is far from the case. And American children are paying for that lie.