“Are schools safe?” is the wrong question to be asking

Beyond the community, each individual school matters. The CDC may break out school-aged children as their own age group, but there are some indications that younger children in this range are less susceptible than older ones. That’s one of the reasons the CDC has different recommendations for separation among older and younger students. Since many school systems have separate buildings for different age groups, there can be a lot of complicated issues regarding whether an appropriate level of separation and ventilation can be maintained in the different facilities.

Finally, there are large expectations, both among students and parents, that school is more than just the classes. For many parents, it also acts as daycare they could not otherwise afford. For many students, it’s a place where they can be certain they’ll get a nutritious meal. Both groups associate school with a large range of additional activities, like sports, music, and theater.

Which of these activities are safe? Is anyone willing to sacrifice all of the ones that are not?

All of these complexities point to why, rather than issuing a yes-or-no decision on safety, the CDC has an extensive school safety checklist. It helps focus parents on making sure they consider all the factors that go into school safety rather than viewing it as a simple yes-or-no question.