Economist Emily Oster of Brown University has become the go-to expert on the risks that children might get COVID. She has written widely in the popular press and been quoted extensively by others about the low risk of reopening schools. Oster is an economist, not a public health expert.

Writing in The American Prospect, journalist Rachel Cohen quotes many public health experts who disagree with Oster. She writes that Oster’s datasets are incomplete and flawed. There is more uncertainty about the risks to children than Oster reports, she writes.


But she concludes by giving Oster credit:

Oster, unlike others and to her credit, does acknowledge that some people will get sick and even die if schools reopen. In addition to emphasizing the social, emotional, and academic harms students face by missing in-person school, Oster says we accept mortality risks in normal times, like allowing people to drive cars, have swimming pools, and avoid the flu shot. “There will be some in-school transmission, no matter how careful we are,” she wrote in July. “This is the unfortunate reality. Some of these people may get very sick. If we are not willing to accept this, we cannot open schools.”