Closing Schools Alone Is Not Going to Stop the Coronavirus

Closing Schools Alone Is Not Going to Stop the Coronavirus

Without federal help, states have no good choices. But is keeping students home the worst one to make first?

For months, New York City managed to keep the coronavirus under control — until it didn’t.

As coronavirus cases surge to fearsome levels across the country, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that the city’s positivity rate, which had been rising steadily since October, had exceeded 3 percent, setting off a shutdown of the city’s public school system, the nation’s largest. It’s a major setback for the city’s recovery, as well as a source of fury for parents baffled by the priorities the move telegraphed: As schools closed on Thursday, limited indoor dining continued and gyms remained open.

The situation is not unique to New York. “In many American cities,” my colleague Binyamin Appelbaum wrote on Twitter, “children are allowed to eat in restaurants but not to learn in classrooms.” Why? Here’s what people are saying.

There isn’t a uniform answer. So far, the bulk of the evidence suggests that schools, especially for younger children, are not stoking community transmission of the coronavirus.