Dr. Scott Atlas, senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former chief of neurology at Stanford University Medical Center appeared on Martha MacCallum’s FOX News show to discuss the “hysteria” of opening schools in the fall despite the coronavirus pandemic.
MACCALLUM: The latest political divide appears to be going back to school with Democrats mostly urging caution and Republicans mostly, starting with the president, saying that kids need to get back into the classroom or risk a learning loss that maybe irreparable. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Going back to school presents the biggest risk for the spread of the coronavirus. They ignore science and they ignore governance in order to make this happen. If there are CDC guidelines, they should be requirements. (END VIDEO CLIP) MACCALLUM: Dr. Scott Atlas, senior fellow at Stanford University Hoover Institution and former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center. Doctor, welcome back to the program. Good to have you. SCOTT ATLAS, PROFESSOR AND CHIEF OF NEURORADIOLOGY, STANFORD UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Thanks, Martha. MACCALLUM: She says, Nancy Pelosi says that this is the biggest risk to the spread of the virus if the kids go back in September. ATLAS: I think we have a different scale because that’s just completely wrong and contrary to all the science. And when I say, when I say all the science, I’m talking about signs all over the world not just in the United States but Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Australia, Asia. I mean, it’s totally contrary to the science and here’s the science, I’m not sure how many times it has to be said but the risk to children from this disease for fatality is nearly zero. The risk to children for a significant illness is, quote, “far less from seasonal flu” according to JAMA Pediatrics. I mean, this is totally antithetical to the data. And the other thing that we have to, obviously we know this by now it’s been confirmed all over the world. Children rarely transmit the disease to adults. This is — (CROSSTALK) MACCALLUM: Well that’s the biggest concern, if — pardon me for hopping in, but that’s the quickest rebuttal to that. That, you know, yes, but these kids aren’t going to realize their carriers, they’re going to go home and infect their parents or their grandparents. ATLAS: Well, but those are people that obviously either don’t know the data or are refractory to learning themselves because the facts say otherwise. And this has been proven by contract tracing all over the world by studies on these kids. This is like really ludicrous. But I think the most important thing of all, well, the other — there’s two points that I want to make. One is that teaching is a young profession. In the United States half the teachers are 40 or less and a quarter of them are under 30. Ninety percent are under 60 in public schools. They have almost zero risk from this and for those high risk teachers, which there are some, if they believe in masks and social distancing, don’t think they know how to do that by now, and if they’re still afraid to do their job, why can’t they teach from a distance? If they think social distancing works, teach in a class, if they think a distance learning works, teach from home. But the problem here and this the biggest point of all, I never hear anyone talk about the harms of closing schools. The harms are against the children. Anyone who prioritizes children would open the schools. That’s just counterfactual to say that, you know, the children are not the risk or, you know, were at risk here. When we see the harms to children, most children learn most of what’s in schools from social engagement, from learning how to resolve conflicts from dealing with others. MACCALLUM: Yes. So true. ATLAS: This is obvious. When children learned that they need a hearing aid or glasses, that’s done in school. There are over almost a quarter of a million apparently reported child abuse cases — MACCALLUM: Yes. ATLAS: — missed because children’s child abuse is most noticed in the schools. And so, I mean, I’m not sure. We are the only country in the world, this is a level of hysteria like this is something I feel like I’m living in a Kafka novel here. I mean, I get thousands of e-mails a week from all over the world, from professors, teachers, mothers in the United States and elsewhere, they are stunned that we are willing to just simply destroy our children out of some bizarre notion that is completely contrary to the science. MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, we watched some countries in Scandinavia that went right back. The kids all went right back and they did very well. So, this is really important, you know, that the kids they — the learning deficit is so dramatic and we’re going to talk to Betsy DeVos about this later in the week. But Dr. Atlas, I got to go but thank you so much. Always good to have you with us.