This section describes the first of four layers provided in PCE's Vaccine Policy Alternatives in Schools page.
To some extent, we did this even before Covid. Anybody who has been a “visitor” to a school has seen the signs – “All Visitors Must Register At The Office.” It is simple gatekeeping: visitors are not allowed on school property unless there is good reason for them to be there. In addition, many parents have been moving to home education models, which reduces contact to a tremendous degree. Parents need to see what the possible options are. Here are some other measures a school board can adopt:
- A board can make sure that visiting presenters attend via Zoom. The costs are low: we generally have AV and internet access already available, there is minimal social harm, and there appear to be no risks.
- Banning inter-school events is a possibility for a board. However, this comes with social costs, and there is a hierarchy of which events might be banned. It is commonly understood that outdoor events are less risky than indoors ones, and it stands to reason that a gymnasium is less risky than a classroom. That being said, the actual scientific evidence that transmission is lower outdoors has significant gaps. This suggests that banning outdoor events has a low value-to-cost ratio, while indoor events such as debate contests have a higher one, although all distancing and fencing may carry a health cost in the form of immunological and cardiovascular implications.
- Home education models provide the ultimate fence, by withdrawing children from the larger school. This fence is very active: home education numbers have almost doubled since 2018, which presumably is connected to Covid concerns – whether parents prefer stronger measures or the opposite. While social costs for this voluntary movement are low, economic costs are high, as parents pay in opportunity costs and boards lose per-student funding.
- Another basic fence is provided by simply insisting that anyone demonstrating symptoms stays home. While it is possible that there is such a thing as asymptomatic transmission, transmission certainly correlates with symptoms.