Top Norwegian Doctor: Pandemic school closures were “not necessary” and “probably should not have been done”
Norway’s National Institute of Public Health opposed pandemic school closures
Despite school closures that lasted weeks — with plans made to reopen just two weeks after schools first closed — and not months or years, like in many other countries, prominent Norwegian doctors and health experts have consistently questioned the wisdom of even brief closures. The latest Norwegian doctor to speak out is Dr. Preben Aavitsland, chief physician at Norway’s National Institute of Public Health and an infectious disease expert. Aavitsland was interviewed by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) about the subject and didn’t mince words.
It was a mistake. It was not necessary and probably should not have been done.
Aavitsland noted that, throughout the pandemic, Norway’s National Institute of Public Health fought to keep schools open, despite individuals at the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs believing otherwise. It is remarkable that there was robust disagreement about the wisdom of school closures in the Norwegian government, even in spring 2020.
Yes, we have been through several waves, and it has always been a struggle, at least on our part, to keep the schools open, against various forces that have wanted to close the schools at a fairly low level of concern, says the infection control doctor.
Experts at the National Institute of Public Health felt that it was unfair to children “who had the least danger from [the] virus” to make them “suffer the most” with school closures.
There were not many occasions we agreed that school closure was relevant. We pretty much tried to stop it wherever we could. We thought it was a wrong approach that those who had the least danger from this virus should be the ones who should suffer the most, says Aavitsland.
In addition to robust disagreement about the value of pandemic school closures in the Norwegian government — with two major health bureaucracies expressing divergent views — Norway had a cross-government “coordination group to monitor the situation of vulnerable children and young people,” which explicitly advocated for protecting children from harsh pandemic measures and for keeping schools and social institutions open.