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Fauci finally publicly acknowledges that keeping schools closed for so long during COVID was a 'mistake'

Despite partially acknowledging the decision, the former chief medical advisor to past U.S. presidents again attempted to excuse his handling of the pandemic.

Doctor Anthony Fauci | Archivo/ Cordon Press

Doctor Anthony Fauci | Archivo/ Cordon Press

This June 18, 2024, almost three years after returning to classes in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that keeping classrooms closed for a long time during the pandemic was a “mistake.”

Although he partially recognized the government's failure, Fauci also wanted to excuse his handling of the pandemic, explaining that closing primary schools was the right decision and the wrong thing was to postpone the closure for many months.

“Shutting down everything immediately—although we didn't shut it down completely—was the right thing to do, including major social distancing in schools. The problem was how long it was kept in place, because there was a disparity throughout the country,” the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) explained to “CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil in an interview Tuesday.

“If you look back at YouTube, I kept saying, 'Close the bars, open the schools. Open the schools as quickly and as safely as you possibly can.' Initially, closing everything down was correct,” Fauci insisted.

But later, he admitted: “Keeping it for a year was not a good idea."

“So, that was a mistake in retrospect?” replied Dokoupil. “Will we not repeat it?”

“Absolutely yes,” acknowledged Fauci, who came to the program to discuss his new memoir “On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service.”

Anthony Fauci's recognition of the mistake of having kept schools closed for a long time comes long after the negative consequences on the education of millions of American children became apparent.

In September 2022, the U.S. Department of Education released troubling statistics showing that reading scores among nine-year-olds had plummeted during the pandemic, reaching their lowest point in 30 years. Additionally, the department acknowledged that math scores fell for the first time in a half-century of tracking.

Some experts agree that this decline in student achievement, coinciding with the prolonged closure of classrooms, could have been avoided by keeping schools open. A CDC study dated January 2021 found "little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission" of COVID-19. That is, school closures, implemented to stop the spread of the virus, did not significantly impact community transmission of the coronavirus.

Finally, the Biden administration and Fauci decided to maintain school closures after a pressure campaign by powerful teachers unions, which opposed returning to classes until the next school year, already in 2022.