I'm a New Dad Freaking Out About Pandemic Day Care. So I Called the Expert.

08.12.2020 - By The Mother Jones Podcast

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With schools and parents around the country facing tough decisions about safety and education, one author and academic has become something of a hero to parents everywhere for her sane, data-driven approach to surviving parenting during a pandemic. Emily Oster, a Brown University economist, is the pregnancy and early childhood guru for millennial parents. Expecting Better and her 2019 followup, Cribsheet, rethink the pregnancy-and-baby-literature cannon by adding something that’s been lacking: empiricism. Oster separates the good studies from the bad and lays out the best evidence to answer such critical questions as whether it’s safe to eat sushi while pregnant. Now, as the country finds itself in a fraught and deeply partisan fog of confusion about child care and education, Oster decided to apply the same type of analysis to COVID-19 research as she did to pregnancy and parenthood, through her newsletter and a website she co-authors with Harvard medicine professor Galit Alter and a team of researchers, called COVID-Explained. Aaron Wiener, a senior editor in MoJo’s DC bureau, spoke to Oster to see if she could bring together her research on young children and on COVID-19 to answer key questions about returning to school and day care facilities. And as a new dad himself (Cole is now 10-months-old), Aaron asks her for her guidance on what his young family—and all the other parents out there—should be considering as they decide whether it’s advisable to send their kids back to school.

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