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Disastrous US School Openings Lead To 2,500 Infections Across 44 States

Above photo: Map of COVID reports in US schools, August 20, 12020, WSWS.

Within weeks, the reopening of schools across the United States has already become a complete catastrophe. Outside of the mobilization of educators, parents and the broader working class to halt this homicidal policy, there will be rapid acceleration of the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease throughout every region of the country.

Because no government agency at the local, state or federal level is systematically tracking work-related COVID-19 cases and deaths, Kansas teacher Alisha Morris took it upon herself to begin compiling this data in a spreadsheet. The list, which is now curated by roughly 35 people, has been shared in the dozens of Facebook groups that have been set up to oppose the unsafe reopening of schools and has been viewed tens of thousands of times by educators, parents and students.

The data compiled in the spreadsheet, and converted into a map by the WSWS Educators Newsletter, paints a chilling picture of the spread of the pandemic in schools across the US.

According to this data and an official account from Mississippi released Monday, since schools began reopening during the week of July 27, roughly 2,500 teachers, students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 from hundreds of schools across the country. All but six states—Alaska, Washington, Delaware, Vermont, North Dakota, and New Hampshire—have at least one school that has already experienced an outbreak of COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, there are over 900 entries on the spreadsheet, with each one representing a separate school that has had at least one positive or suspected case since the start of the pandemic. Most entries are based on local news reports since the beginning of August.

The devastation has been most extreme in the South, which for weeks has been a major epicenter of the pandemic in the US. Largely controlled by the Republican Party, these states most closely followed the “herd immunity” strategy of letting the virus rip through the population, as advanced by the Trump administration. These officials were the most aggressive and earliest to reopen their economies and have now been the most strident in demanding full in-person instruction, often with the bare minimum of personal protective equipment (PPE) provided to teachers and staff.

The heaviest-hit Republican-led states include:

  • Mississippi, where 71 of the state’s 82 counties have reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools. As of Tuesday, 199 students and 245 teachers have tested positive statewide, while 2,035 students and 589 teachers have been forced into two-week quarantines.
  • Florida, where at least 331 students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 11 have died, many from earlier in the summer.
  • In Georgia, there are now at least 296 known cases and 481 suspected cases at 67 different schools. At North Paulding High School, a combined 23 students and staff have now tested positive after the school reopened with essentially no safety measures in place.
  • In Texas, at least 140 different schools have reported a combined 380 cases. Last week, as in-person instruction resumed in numerous districts across the state, over 150 employees tested postive in districts throughout Central Texas.
  • Indiana now has over 100 confirmed cases from at least 75 different schools. In Westfield Washington Schools, four bus drivers tested positive just before classes were set to resume, creating a bus driver shortage that prompted the district to double the routes of the remaining drivers, creating more unsafe conditions.
  • Tennessee now has at least 99 confirmed cases from 44 different schools.

In total, at least 406,109 children have now tested positive for COVID-19 in the US, representing 9.1 percent of all cases. One of the chief lies used by state officials to justify reopening schools, that children are less susceptible to the virus, stands thoroughly exposed.

While the Trump administration and his state and local backers have been most aggressive, the back-to-school and back-to-work policy also has the fulsome support of the Democratic Party at every level.

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