The headline of a just republished article that “kids are more likely to be infected by a family member than in a classroom” is media malpractice. It is clickbait. Of course kids are more likely to be infected by a family member than at school. People are more likely to be infected by a family member than at a bar, at a restaurant, or at a church, as well. That doesn’t suggest that bars, restaurants, and churches are safe places to congregate.

Terrible headline. Terrible analysis. Irresponsible.

Terrible headline. Terrible analysis. Irresponsible.

The problem with this irresponsible narrative is that it ignores that the pandemic perpetuates through indoor gatherings of people who do not live together, particularly when they do so in large numbers that can lead to clusters or superspreader events. Particularly when they are not masked and distanced. Which is what this study actually confirms. And then those people then go home … and spread it to their immediate families.

Then the media piece does the ultimate spin by emphasizing that the children who attended school or daycare and tested positive reported that other children or staff members were not taking safety measures like masking, social distancing or hygiene. Meaning … they got infected at school. While this should be self-evident, and safety measures should always be used when with people outside your household, it is framed in a way to suggest that schools are safe if the safety measures are employed. But they are not safe. They are less unsafe. And anyone who works in a school (where bringing people together indoors is unsafe) knows that kids do not consistently mask and social distance. And heavy handed efforts to do so terrorizes kids.

One of the reasons why the pandemic continues to rage out of control is because the media doesn’t provide the appropriate context around these cherry picked studies. Bringing students, teachers, and staff together indoors for hours a day is not safe. It never has been safe during the pandemic. Just because it is less unsafe than a bunch of people from different households gathering around Thanksgiving dinner or a birthday cake, singing or speaking loudly, does not make it safe.