Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic over the past two and a half years, deflected responsibility for school closures in an interview Sunday while admitting some negative effects for children.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is stepping down in December after five decades in the role, was asked by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl if it was a “mistake” that schools were closed for as long as they were.
“I don’t want to use the word ‘error,’ Jon, because if I do, it takes it out of context that you’re asking me the question,” Fauci said. “We should realize, and have realized, that there will be harmful consequences when you do something like this.”
Fauci continued say the virus has killed nearly 1,500 children, but that he always emphasized that health authorities must do “everything we can to keep schools open.”
“No one plays that clip. They always say ‘Fauci was responsible for closing schools’. I had nothing to do [with it]. I mean, let’s get down to the facts,” Fauci told ABC News.
Numerous studies have shown that school closures contributed to unprecedented learning loss in K-12 students.
ONE Examination of the teaching department released last month showed that the average reading score for 9-year-olds fell five points and the average math score fell seven points in 2022 compared to scores in 2020. The drop in reading scores was the largest drop in over three decades, while the drop in math scores was the first registered.
High school students are increasingly unprepared for college. Average ACT college admissions scores test of the class of 2022 was 19.8 out of 36, the lowest score since 1991.
During the height of the pandemic, Fauci routinely emphasized the need for schools to remain open, while asserting that it may be necessary for health officials to close schools in areas with high infections.
In August 2020, Fauci told the Washington Post that “the default should be to try as hard as you can to get the kids back to school,” but that local governments in states with high infections “might want to pause before they start sending kids back to school for various reasons.”
This is not the first time that Fauci has admitted some mistakes on the part of the government. He said as much at the Texas Tribune festival last month “certain aspects” of the government’s response until the coronavirus pandemic was “faked”.
“While you have to be aware and not deny that there are harmful consequences for longer periods of time to keep children out of school, remember, children’s safety is also important,” Fauci said.