School Closures Didn’t Reduce The Number Of Child COVID Deaths, Data Indicates

Claims of teachers unions and Democrats, now having faced the test of history, loom large in 2022's elections.
Scott Heins/Bloomberg via Getty Images

States that engaged in prolonged school closures didn’t seem to have fewer children die with COVID than those who kept schools open, a Daily Wire analysis of new federal data shows.

The District of Columbia had the highest number of children who died with coronavirus per capita (12 deaths equating to 95 deaths per million children), even though its schools were almost completely closed for the 2020-2021 school year, with its school coronavirus policies arguably the most draconian in the nation. Wyoming, which has a nearly identical population size to D.C. and whose schools remained open more than any other state, had the fewest deaths per capita (zero).

Wyoming was one of only three states that, by May 2020, had not ordered schools closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 year. By contrast, very few D.C. students attended a significant number of hours of in-person learning even in the following school year, and D.C. pledged to prohibit students from returning to school this year unless they had been vaccinated, though it ultimately delayed that requirement.

Across the country, COVID was a negligible cause of child mortality, the data shows: For every child that died with COVID, nearly 50 died for other reasons.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provisional COVID deaths data for children under 18 underscore the apparent policy blunder of Democrat-controlled areas that not only deprived children of learning, but also seemed to fail to achieve their goals when it came to mortality. Test scores released last month showed the ruinous and lasting effect of the closures on children’s reading and math skills.

The low death figures also call into question the credibility of teachers unions — currently campaigning for Democrat candidates in high-profile races — who invoked the specter of widespread death to secure their demands of closed schools, even parading with child-sized coffins on their cars.

Teachers unions, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, are campaigning with Democrat candidates such as Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro and Senate candidate John Fetterman in the final days of the 2022 election. Meanwhile, the Atlantic magazine requested “amnesty” for those who erred in their policy prescriptions for COVID.

Weingarten endorsed the magazine’s request for forgiving and forgetting. But Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, said the educational decisions of the last few years will loom large in this year’s elections. “Parents are acutely aware of the impact on their children, and are unlikely to forgive or forget in the foreseeable future,” she said.

In addition to Wyoming, Vermont reported zero minors dying with coronavirus. Sixteen states reported a number between one and nine, with the exact number suppressed for privacy. Most of those states had Republican governors. Those states ranged from deep-blue Oregon, where schools were closed almost the whole year, to South Dakota, where almost all schools were open.

For the percent of time spent in-person per state, The Daily Wire drew from COVID School Data Hub, which tracked schools’ status across the country — though the average figure isn’t perfect since some decisions about remote learning varied across school districts and grade levels. Four states are also missing. Overall, an analysis by The Daily Wire saw little connection between school closure policies and the number of deaths per million children.

763 children between the ages of 5 and 17 died with COVID between January 2020 and last month, according to the federal data. That’s about two percent of the 32,101 children who died during the same period. For example, 137 died of the flu, and 232 died with pneumonia, but not COVID. Another CDC data set, which breaks out the data differently, indicated that some young people who died with COVID actually simply had COVID while they died of other causes, such as injury or heart failure.

When it comes to teachers themselves getting COVID, the science has long indicated that teachers are at less risk than the average adult of contracting COVID at work — a fact the Biden administration’s CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, acknowledged, saying that the reason teachers should get priority for receiving vaccines is so they are “protected from getting COVID-19 in places outside of schools where they might be at higher risk.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  School Closures Didn’t Reduce The Number Of Child COVID Deaths, Data Indicates