BERNARD COLUMN: State school policy not the right decision

Published 9:30 am Friday, February 4, 2022

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By Jack Bernard
Retired corporate executive

The CDC recently (12-27-21) loosened its recommendation for those infected to “People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask.”  Some in the scientific community say that the isolation period should have been kept at 10 days, as it was previously. But, without any regard to science, Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp has gone much further. 

Dr. Wen stated the above when she was asked about Gov.   Kemp issuing an order permitting teachers with Covid to come back to school if they are asymptomatic and wear a mask, with no isolation period at all. In other words, teachers who are 100% able to spread Covid-19 will be teaching our children here in Georgia, unless a local district immediately acts to restrict them.

Kemp and Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, MD, issued a statement indicating that they made this ill-advised policy because “students, parents and educators…want to be in the classroom.”

As someone with grandchildren in public schools, I agree that in-person learning is the way to go. Long distance learning doesn’t provide for interaction.

Further, many of our most in need students are left behind due to various issues like lack of technology. Also, working parents have to figure out how to care for at home students if the parents are not there. Or lose days of work and income.

But all of the above does not mean that an infected teacher should be going into a public school where they can infect other staff and students. There are numerous studies which show that Covid is usually spread by asymptomatic people. One study cited by Harvard Medical School found “67% of cases were spread by someone without symptoms.”

So, why did Kemp issue this non-scientifically based policy statement? And why did Toomey, who obviously knew better, go along with a state health policy that is clearly in conflict with science? Here’s my take.

Similar to Trump, his erstwhile mentor, Kemp has ignored the science behind Covid measures from the start in favor of playing tribal politics.

In fact, in March 2020 when Trump was completely denying Covid was a problem, his then friend Gov. Kemp stated “I was really taken by the President’s coronavirus press briefing yesterday.”

Consistent with that anti-science approach, it was not until 4-1-20 that Kemp even admitted that Covid spread by asymptomatic people was possible, saying (without any regard to the facts) that such transmission just became known “in the last 24 hours.”

Maybe Kemp and Toomey need to speak with some of the Pediatric ICU physicians who are treating these infected kids and then rescind their harmful school policy.