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VICTOR JOECKS: When it’s safe enough to offer day camps for students, it’s safe enough to reopen CCSD

If you want proof that it’s safe for children to return to school, consider the day camps Clark County is now offering parents.

Earlier this week, the county, which is separate from the Clark County School District, unveiled its “School Daze” program. It’s for children between 5 and 12 years old and runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. It includes learning time, crafts and sports. Bringing kids together to learn and play sounds like a familiar concept. Oh wait. It’s usually called school.

If it’s safe for children to go to day camps, why isn’t it safe for them to return to school? Answer: It’s safe for them to return to school.

Since February, 20 children ages 5 to 14 have died of coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s not 20 children in Nevada. That’s 20 children in the entire country.

Every one of those deaths is a tragedy. But that doesn’t justify shutting schools down. Over that same period, 86 children ages 5 to 14 died of pneumonia. Every one of those deaths is a tragedy, too. But people would think you’re a lunatic if you demanded schools be shut down to stop the spread of pneumonia. That illness, though, is four times more deadly for elementary and middle school students.

Teachers shouldn’t be panicking either. In every age range listed by the CDC, coronavirus deaths are either below pneumonia deaths or within 4 percentage points. In Nevada, more people have died from pneumonia than coronavirus in every age group the CDC has released data for.

This isn’t to downplay the risk of coronavirus. It’s a risk. Just like pneumonia is a risk. Just like influenza, which has killed more U.S. children ages 5 to 14 since February than coronavirus, is a risk. The existence of risk shouldn’t paralyze society.

Good for Clark County leaders for putting forward a stopgap solution for parents left hanging by district officials who refused to open schools.

Earlier this week, legislative Democrats made it even harder to reopen schools. They passed a bill exempting most organizations from civil lawsuits involving coronavirus. The protection would apply only if the groups complied with applicable health standards.

At the behest of teacher unions, however, Senate Democrats excluded public schools. Trial lawyers are now free to sue the district for millions if a student or school worker tests positive for coronavirus. District students and teachers constitute almost one-sixth of the county’s population. Whether kids go back to school or not, some district students or employees will test positive for the virus.

Just like they will for pneumonia, which is even deadlier for children. Imagine if trial lawyers could bleed the district dry for spreading pneumonia. That’d be crazy, but it’s analogous to what Democrats did here.

Life is about managing risk, not curling up in the fetal position when things become difficult. Take common-sense precautions and open the schools.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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