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FAIR: Why Is the New York Times Cheerleading to Reopen Schools?

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The organization Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting writes that the New York Times has become a “cheerleader” for reopening the schools as the COVID surges to new heights.

it is strange indeed because there is evidence to support reopening and equally impressive evidence against reopening schools. Yet the New York Times consistently lands on one side: reopen the schools.

Ari Paul of FAIR writes:

We’re still dealing with a pandemic of biblical proportions, and the scientific community is still conflicted about how schools reopening fits into the crisis. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts, favors school reopening (Business Insider11/29/20)—as does the American Academy of Pediatrics, though it notes that “the current widespread circulation of the virus will not permit in-person learning to be safely accomplished in many jurisdictions.”

But the idea that children are not vectors, or are merely low-risk vectors, for spread of the coronavirus is in dispute (Healthline9/24/20AP9/22/20). The Journal of the American Medical Association (7/29/20) reported “a temporal association between statewide school closure and lower Covid-19 incidence and mortality,” saying that school closures between March 9 and May 7 were associated with a 62% relative decline in Covid incidence per week and a 58% decline in deaths per week.

Nature (11/16/20) cited JAMA’s finding to bolster its comprehensive statistical review of governmental “non-pharmaceutical interventions” against Covid, which found that school closures were one of “the most effective NPIs” in curbing the spread of the disease. A report in US News and World Report (12/2/20) based on data compiled by the Covid Monitorproject on the coronavirus in K–12 schools  concluded that “the data suggests schools are NOT safe and DO contribute to the spread of the virus—both within schools and within their surrounding communities.”

And that’s partially why parents and teachers are so worried about de Blasio’s plan. Individual schools in the city have to deal with budget shortfallsdeteriorating buildings and lack of supplies in the best of times, and now they suddenly must rapidly and safely implement in-person teaching. And as many New York schools advocates, like one-time gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, have argued, reopening schools tends to benefit whiter communities, as whiter, more affluent schools tend to have more resources to adapt to the current environment.

Paul identifies Times’ reporter Eliza Shapiro as purveyor of a consistent anti-union, anti-teacher perspective, who consistently supports reopening and ignores the voices of teachers who complain about the lack of funding for protective measures for both students and teachers.

Paul concludes that the New York Times, the newspaper of record, “should be playing a much more balanced and compassionate role.”

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