MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – As discussions about whether or not to reopen public schools in Miami-Dade County continue, some experts are concerned about how a rush to reopen could potentially worsen the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and cost more lives.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines encouraging schools to reopen because “the best available evidence” indicates that death rates among school-aged children are much lower than among adults.
Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, strongly disagrees with the guideline’s application to Miami-Dade County.
“Children can get infected,” Marty said. “They are getting contaminated with the virus at rates very similar to adults. They are releasing the same amount of virus that adults do. That means they’re just as contagious as anybody else.”
Marty is one of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez most outspoken advisers. She believes it would be “completely unwise” to reopen schools with the current 20% testing positivity rate.
Marty is among the experts who believe it will only be safe to allow children to go back to the classroom when the positivity rate is below 10%. The ideal, she said, would be below 5% to 3%.
Without a vaccine, Marty said hospitalizations should be lower. Miami-Dade should have more efficient testing and contact tracing, she said. Without these strategies in place, she said it would be “very, very risky.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has said that under the current positivity rate, he opposes reopening schools full time for in-person instruction.