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EDITORIAL: Generally speaking, Scott Perry is not the go-to voice when it comes to science

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
  • Scott Perry recently argued that schools would be relatively safe to open up in the fall.
  • The congressman said young children are not coronavirus transmission vectors.
  • Perry’s comments drew a strong rebuke from the state teachers' union.
Congressman Scott Perry

Generally speaking, it wasn’t the most informed statement that U.S. Rep. Scott Perry has ever made.

And generally speaking, Perry’s misinformed comments over the years cover an awful lot of ground.

For those who haven’t heard, the Carroll Township Republican recently argued that schools would be relatively safe to open up in the fall, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

He made the following statement during a tele-town hall:

"The science is showing young children are not transmission vectors, so people aren't getting coronavirus from their kids, generally speaking," Perry said, citing an unnamed German study that reportedly found that the virus doesn't spread easily in schools.

Disputing his conclusions: Well, when it comes to science, you’ll have to pardon us if we don’t take Mr. Perry’s word at face value. The conservative congressman has never been a big believer in scientific experts, at least those who disagree with his political vision.

It doesn’t seem to matter to him that many other studies dispute his conclusions.

For example, a recent South Korean study of nearly 65,000 people suggested that school reopenings would very likely contribute to more outbreaks and children can, in fact, spread the coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

Perry: 'Generally speaking,' kids won't transmit COVID-19 to teachers

While the study, consistent with many others, found that children under 10 years old were about half as likely to spread the virus, those between 10 and 19 can spread it just as easily as adults.

Keep in mind that students age 10 to 19 make up the majority of the school-age population.

Strong rebuke from teachers: Not surprisingly, Perry’s comments drew a strong — and deserved — rebuke from the state teachers' union. Lauri Lebo, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said she was offended by Perry's remarks on behalf of the immunocompromised teachers throughout the state.

More:Perry makes waves by implying God pollutes

“When it comes to the science, safety, health and medical information that’s coming out, PSEA and our members are going to turn toward the experts instead of Scott Perry — a politician who doesn’t take science seriously,” Lebo said.

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Wrong tone during surge: It’s distressing that Perry made his most recent tone-deaf statement during a period when positive tests for the coronavirus have surged both in the state and across the station. Now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant and cautious, especially with the health and safety of our children and their teachers.

Because of the recent spike, there doesn’t seem to be much appetite in the U.S. to send children back to school without some kind of restrictions, either. Only about 1 in 10 Americans think day cares and schools should open without restrictions, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. About 31% said schools shouldn't physically open at all, the same poll stated.

More:VIDEO: Vote Smart — check the facts on politicians

Following the Trump line: Perry’s comments don’t come as much of a surprise. He’s an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly argued schools should fully reopen in the fall. Even worse, the Trump administration has threatened to withhold funding from those that don't.

The decision on how and when to reopen schools should be made at the local level, by school boards familiar with their individual district situations. It's a painfully difficult decision, with school districts struggling to settle on concrete reopening plans with so much uncertainty surrounding the current situation.

That’s why Trump’s threats are so worrisome. And that's why misinformed statements, such as those made by Perry, only serve to further polarize an already divisive issue.

Generally speaking, of course.