Dr. Jha to Newsmax: Omicron No Reason to Return to Remote Learning

Dr. Jha to Newsmax: Omicron No Reason to Return to Remote Learning (Newsmax/ "Wake Up America")

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Tuesday, 21 December 2021 08:54 AM

There is no reason for the nation's schools to return to remote learning, even with the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant, Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, insisted on Newsmax Tuesday.

"Kids need to be in school, in person, full time and the good news is there's no trade-off with COVID," Jha said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "We can do it. We know how to keep kids and teachers and staff safe, and we should be implementing those policies.

Jha's comments come after a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research that shows how students' grades have dropped during the pandemic.

The researchers, from Brown University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and MIT examined the relationship between in-person learning and student grade scores for children in grades 3-8 in 12 states. They determined that the share of students scoring “proficient” or above declined in spring 2021 compared to previous years by an average of 14.2 percentage points in math and 6.3 percentage points in language arts.

Meanwhile, Jha said that with the numbers climbing again on infections, he is more concerned about what is happening with hospitals and deaths rather than just the positive numbers.

"I've been very clear now that we have vaccines and vaccines dramatically reduce the severity of this disease," said Jha.

The numbers will be high with omicron because it is so contagious "that the goal should not be to keep infection numbers as low as possible," said Jha, but that doesn't mean "we want to spread it on purpose."

But still, "we don't have to go remote on these things again," the doctor said. "I don't agree with most universities that are going remote at this point. It doesn't make sense to me. I think there's a way to manage through this and keep people safe."

Meanwhile, care must continue to be taken that younger people aren't spreading the disease to their older family members, and even if the omicron variant may cause less-severe illness, "80-year-olds who have breakthrough infections can still get sick," said Jha.

"We should try to keep infections down as much as possible, but the question is at what cost and what are the things we're willing to do as a result of it," said Jha. "My basic approach here is to keep infections down. Don't do super crazy, risky things, but don't excessively worry about 30-year-olds getting infected, especially if they're vaccinated. I think the key here is we've got to protect high-risk people from this."

He added that like many other health experts, he believes that COVID will be endemic and will be "in our country and our world probably forever."

"The question is, how do we keep hospitalizations down?" he said. "How do we keep deaths down? How do we prevent infections in high-risk people? How do we prevent long-term complications? These are all things that two years ago were really, really hard. Now we know how to do it. Vaccinations boosters, treatments that are coming online. There's a lot of tools we now have, [including] improving ventilation in indoor spaces. That's another strategy."

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