MADIGAN: School closures ignore negative health impacts 


The CDC has reported the following: 

  • The risk of Covid19 virus to school-aged children is significantly lower than the flu (CDC website)
  • The CDC cites the 2018-19 flu season had 480 flu deaths in school-aged children vs. only 90 school-aged virus deaths as of September (CDC website).

Cuomo is requiring 20% of all public-school students (in yellow zones like GI) to be tested using the expensive (~$100 each) virus test weekly based on guidelines he created. Schools that do not comply must be closed and converted to virtual learning. 

Many parents do not want their children tested regularly –  According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, if your child is randomly chosen for testing and you refuse to have them tested, then the government will kick them out of school until they submit to a test (WGRZ). 

For Grand Island, a weekly 20% student testing program equates to over $60,000 per week just for the test.  The logistics and staffing involved in testing 600 children/week are significant and practically not feasible – it would require 20-30 minutes/test (setup, breakdown, and 15 minutes to read) which equates to 200-300 hours testing/week in a 40 hour week. 

School Superintendents must stand up to the Governor and say “NO!” to these oppressive and misguided testing guidelines that, if they result in school closures – which they do,   the CDC and WHO suggest may cause significantly greater negative health risks to children than it mitigates (CDC and WHO Websites). 

The only way this misguided plan can be stopped is if School Superintendents, with support from area elected officials, say – NO! – to the Governor. To date no leadership in this area has been taken – our “leaders” have submitted without questioning to the Governor and his misguided and off-the-rails directives – they lack the courage required for great leadership.

So why is Cuomo mandating extreme testing requirements when students are at a substantially lower health risk when compared to the flu and why are area “Leaders” submitting to such misguided directives?

Are students being targeted as part of this test plan – as suggested by one GI School Board member at this week’s meeting?

Restaurant cooks and waiters are not required to be tested – it seems logical that they pose at least an equivalent if not a significantly higher public transmission risk. So why only the students?

It has been reported NYSUT (the teacher’s union) do not want teachers to return to in-class teaching and they have threatened strikes and have lobbied hard against in-person teaching in recent months. It is a fact that NYSUT is one of the most powerful Unions in NY and is one of the largest political donors and influencers in Cuomo’s and our area elections. 

Testing large numbers of students will detect virus-positive students and would provide the political cover needed to continue the oppressive shutdowns that NYSUT so strongly desires.

NYSUT has significant influence on the Governor, State Senate, Assembly, elected school board members, and School Superintendents.  There are numerous incidents over the years where officials in these positions have disagreed with NYSUT and NYSUT has successfully targeted such individuals for removal.  Similarly, if you support their position extremely beneficial money and influential support is provided to that official in many cases. 

Many officials who fear the loss of their position and seek NYSUT support compliantly submit to their demands without question regarding how our Public Schools are run- a dereliction of their duties. This submission results in NYSUT ultimately being the actual one’s running the schools and in a manner that is in the best interests of their Union members rather than in the best interests of students.

The CDC and WHO both emphasize the importance to return children to in-class teaching and they both state the negative health impacts on children from school closures exceed the risk of the virus (CDC Website).

The politicization of our schools allowing special interests to decide how our schools are to be run must stop.  

We must demand that our schools open fully while allowing parents to choose the options of either remote or in-class learning.  We need the appointed and elected officials to step up and say “NO” to Cuomo – The negative health impacts of closures far exceed the risk of the virus. 

Please call your Superintendent, assembly and senate representatives and the County Executive – let them know your position on this matter and request action.

Mike Madigan is a Councilman on the Grand Island Town Board. 

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