Story at a glance
- Scott Gottlieb highlighted the need for in-person classrooms, advocating the closure of other public spaces to cut virus transmission.
- This follows New York City shuttering all public school classrooms.
U.S. schools are the latest public venue to reckon with the most recent — and severe — COVID-19 outbreak plaguing the country, with some cities and states opting to shut down classrooms in a bid to halt the rampant virus transmission.
Public health experts voice concern over this decision. Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently told reporters on CNBC that the U.S. “should do everything possible to preserve schools.”
Emphasizing that elementary schools and other similar primary schools should remain open, Gottlieb highlighted states like Michigan and Rhode Island’s decision to move high school and collegiate education to remote learning while keeping elementary and middle schools operating in-person.
To reduce COVID-19 infections, other communal spaces like bars, gyms and restaurants have been closed in lieu of schools, a move which Gottlieb supports. Other countries like France, Germany and the UK — all of which have lower infection numbers — have taken this approach as well.
“We should be trying to curtail whatever activities we know are sources of community spread long before we close schools,” he noted on air.
In contrast to this policy is New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) shut down in-person public schooling amid a resurgence of the virus.
CNBC notes that restaurants and fitness centers are permitted to remain open, inciting ire among some critics.
Gottlieb joins the chorus arguing schools should be “the last thing” to shut down, citing the myriad benefits of live education instruction for young children.
High schools tend to see more transmission given the increased amount of social circulation.
“High schools are a bigger risk. There’s more spread in the high schools. They are a source of community spread because the older kids tend to get the virus more readily and they can spread it,” Gottlieb noted, adding that, “we should do everything possible to preserve schools, and especially elementary schools where the educational opportunity of being in the classroom and the socialization is more important.”