basically there's no more important question to economy or society right now than whether children transmit the virus and whether schools increase transmission rates and so to address this vital question we throw a couple half-done studies at the wall and let the politicians pick
— Spotted Toad (@toad_spotted) May 19, 2020
There ought to be enough variation around the First World to figure this out statistically. As I pointed out more than two months ago:
The Japanese, in their own way, are evidently doing something right. In Japan a few school districts even decided to reopen on Monday after a couple of weeks of shutdown. I don’t know whether that is wise or not, but this variation within Japan will prove useful in seeing what works.
I was a big fan of school shutdowns back in February, but who knows whether that was necessary? Normally, if you have an epidemic, you shut the schools. But this is a weirdly age-related disease so the usual response to an epidemic of shutting schools may or may not have been the right decision in this particular case.
Anyway, the important question is: What to do in the future?
The question of when to reopen the schools is, due to the shift over the last 40 years toward an August to May school year, is one on which, for once, we have some time, so let’s try to get it right.
A second huge question that needs to be studied and very quickly is how many people have died and or are going to die due to not going to the emergency room or other side-effects (e.g., lockdown-induced suicides or drug overdoses) that are because of the social-political response to the disease rather than to the disease itself?
Nobody has much of a clue, although lots of folks have a strong opinion about what the answer ought to be due to their opinion of the policy implications of whatever the answer is. But I’d like to know the answer.