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LETTERS

We can’t calm virus fears and inform policy without more hard data on schools

School staff help to decorate the front entrance of the Ellis Elementary School in Roxbury on Oct. 1 before opening for the first day back of in-class learning during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
School staff help to decorate the front entrance of the Ellis Elementary School in Roxbury on Oct. 1 before opening for the first day back of in-class learning during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

We are told, according to data school districts voluntarily shared with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, that approximately 250 students and staff have tested positive in Massachusetts schools since the beginning of the month (“Virus count rises to 135,011; more than 250 said to be in schools,” Metro, Oct. 10). Clearly this is a gross underreport, since, according to state figures, there were more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases under the age of 20 in just the past two weeks.

It is critical that teachers, students, and the general public be informed about the risks of returning to school. We cannot calm fears and inform policy without data.

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Where are the reports identifying the risks of in-school transmission? Where are the reports revealing the experience of observing 3 feet of distance as opposed to 6 feet? Are the risks of positive tests any greater for in-school learning than they are for remote learning?

The crisis in elementary and secondary education is affecting entire communities. Where is the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in all of this?

Dr. B. Dale Magee

Shrewsbury