When school boards in the Tri-Valley voted to reopen with 100% remote learning, parent reactions ranged from disappointed, angry and stressed to relieved and supportive.

It’s hard to tell your kids they won’t go back to class to see their friends and teachers. They’re missing out on sports, clubs and seasonal activities they’ve come to know and love. The natural question that followed the decision to go virtual for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year asked why classrooms should remain empty when COVID-19 tends to only impact the elderly.

While the virus does seem to pass over the young in greater proportions, there’s more at risk than children simply spreading the disease to those they love. As they inch toward adulthood, infected children ages 10 to 19 become more likely to develop symptoms similar to those found in adults with COVID-19. And a small percentage of exposed younger children are at risk of developing potentially life-threatening complications, such Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) or Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. As John Hopkins Medicine reports, PIMS has features in common with toxic shock syndrome, causing inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body.

The World Health Organization reports children represent about 2.4% of cases. Of those cases, 2.5% become severe and .2% become critical. To the average mathematician, that’s a seemingly small risk — small enough to send kids back to class. But to that parent whose child becomes the .2% of 2.4% who become critically ill, that’s 100% horrifying.

The school boards, the superintendents and all of the teachers and staff who worked tirelessly to come up with answers in a time of widespread uncertainty deserve a virtual pat on the back. They were forced to make a lose-lose decision, knowing full well it wouldn’t be popular. They could have buckled under pressure and reopened, only to possibly face closing again due to outbreaks. One county in Georgia saw 800 students under quarantine a mere six days after reopening. It’s difficult enough to get children to keep their hands to themselves, much less social distancing. Enforcing mask compliance would be near-impossible, furthering the health hazard should students return.

School district officials aired on the side of caution for kids, teachers and staff, and the community at large. Thank you all for putting safety before convenience and continuing to do what it takes to cultivate the best learning environment we can have during this time.