The COVID Debates: Should school closures never be used to stop the spread of COVID-19?

Posted: Jan 4, 2022

Debate: Be it resolved that school closures should never be used to stop the spread of COVID-19

In June 2021, Ari Bitnun, Andrew Morris, Jennifer Grant, Colin Furness, and Martha Fulford debated a notion that has once again become the subject of intense dispute as Canada sees a huge spike in COVID-19 cases: whether schools should never be closed as a means of limiting the spread of COVID-19.

by Ari Bitnun

We should never have closed schools because there is no compelling reason to do so. Not only are children at very low risk of developing severe COVID-19, but schools are also not significant sites of transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

by Andrew Morris

We should not rule out school closures, since even though the short-term consequences of COVID-19 on children generally appear to be mild, they are not always benign – and no-one even knows what the long-term effects are. Furthermore, transmission does occur within schools, which can endanger not only schoolchildren but the broader community.