Keep kids in school and out of quarantine

Three weeks ago my 10-year-old daughter was quarantined because another fifth grade student had tested positive for COVID-19. The entire fifth grade was shut down for more than a week.

When she went back to school, her teacher was working from home because her fourth grader had been quarantined. My daughter spent more than two weeks staring at a screen for six hours a day, and every day I watched her get more depressed, isolated, and angry … and screen-addicted. She stopped wanting to draw, to read, to play guitar, to go outside.

We have to stop quarantining young children. Screen time makes them addicted and sick, with potentially long-term consequences. After a few screen-free spring break days, my daughter is partly back to normal. But I have vowed that she will never do online school again. I don’t want her to miss school, but she just can’t spend any more days on a computer.

Why are we quarantining kids, anyway? There’s plenty of evidence that young children are at low risk from COVID-19, and unlikely to spread it in school (e.g. huge North Carolina study in Journal Pediatrics, vol 147). Eagle County’s epidemiologist has already stopped quarantines for young children. The teachers are vaccinated and want to be at work. Sure, if a kid tests positive, send them home, and test the rest of the class every day for a week. We are set up to do that. But stop these pointless quarantines!

When I see the restaurants, bars, and public spaces heaving with people, it’s clear to me that we are not making any serious effort to control the spread of COVID-19. Making young children depressed, isolated, and addicted isn’t going to make a dent in our cases. So keep them in school.

John Seybold