From day 1 of the pandemic it has been more than abundantly clear that the Republican Party as a whole had no plans to do anything really substantial to stop the spread of the disease. They followed the lead of their president and played lip service to doing something while doing only the very least that they could do.
When schools were slowly called off across the country last March, most parents thought that local governments and school boards would take the extra time to explore how best to educate the nation’s youth while keeping the children safe. Doesn’t look like much of that happened.
As school boards met, there seemed to be little new thinking other than to get the schools back open because the Republican president needed the country to appear “normal” by the time the 2020 election rolled around in November. “Normal” for most schools means kids back together in classrooms just like the good old days. Some thought has been given to having some “social distancing” within a classroom, but that seems impractical due to limited classroom space.
It seems like little real innovation will be attempted and the national answer seems to be put the kids in school and let’s HOPE they don’t get sick. As anyone knows who has ever attended a school in America knows, schools both public and private are Petri dishes for whatever contagious disease is going around at the time. This year it is a deadly disease. Seems like a really bad idea to put kids back in school, doesn’t it?
Yet Republican governors, including our own Governor Reynolds, seem hell bent on reopening schools and packing children together once again in situations where the corona virus is likely to spread. What could go wrong? After all, many of these same states have just reopened their economies very successfully right?
The example of business reopening should be a cautionary tale for what not to do when there is an epidemic of any kind going on. Yet even with the fires of the disastrous reopening adventure burning all around us still, states are rushing headlong into getting schools reopened. The driver behind this rush to reopen seems to be the push to pretend that the administration has conquered the virus before the election.
There is a claim that children have been infected at a lower rate than others in society. That claim was previously made about young adults. That proved to be totally false once states reopened places where you adults go. Once they started gathering again, the virus spread quickly among them The very same thing will happen with children.
The reason children have not been widely infected is because parents have been very careful about where children have been allowed to go. Once children are forced into crowds, the virus will spread and it will spread quickly. Once again a right wing talking point will be smashed using YOUR CHILDREN as the guinea pigs.
But there will be more than children inside those school walls. There will be teachers, administrators, custodians and volunteers. Many of these folks will be in what are considered to be vulnerable groups such as older folks and those with conditions that make catching the virus worse. No doubt when schools reopen, there will be deaths. Teachers and staff will die and so will children.
As John Kerry once famously stated before a congressional hearing “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” That quote can be paraphrased for today’s situation to something like “What child should be sacrificed for a political mistake?”
Let me state that we have a grandchild in another state. In that state the current guidelines for reopening are even looser than Iowa’s. No matter where states are considering reopening schools the very first criteria should be that of the CDC guidelines. I believe that means virus numbers are headed down and have been for a while. That right there disqualifies nearly every state but Vermont and New Hampshire I believe. Conquer the virus first!
Iowa is strangely not even requiring masking for students. Masking along with distancing have been two practices that have been shown to help minimize spread of the virus. Mandatory masking should be a requirement in general. Masking most certainly is a must in any school situation. To not do so is inviting disaster.
The USA would not be the first country to reopen schools in the corona virus era.Israel took a shot at it in May. It did not work out very well. From NPR June 3rd:
Two weeks after Israel fully reopened schools, a COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through classrooms — including at least 130 cases at a single school — has led officials to close dozens of schools where students and staff were infected. A new policy orders any school where a virus case emerges to close.
The government decision, announced Wednesday evening, comes after more than 200 cases have been confirmed among students and staff at various schools. At least 244 students and school employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Education. At least 42 kindergartens and schools have been shuttered indefinitely. More than 6,800 students and teachers are in home quarantine by government order.
It’s an abrupt reversal of the post-pandemic spirit in Israel as officials lifted most remaining coronavirus restrictions last week. With fewer than 300 deaths in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had declared victory in early May over the pandemic and last week told Israelis to go to restaurants and “enjoy yourselves.”
Dr. Arnon Afek, who is helping manage Israel’s coronavirus response, played down the outbreak, saying a spike in cases was expected when schools reopened. “It wasn’t a surprise,” he said. “It happened also in South Korea and Singapore.”
There is still time for our country to stop their headlong dive into disaster. Our screaming baby of a president will be throwing tantrums to open schools so it will look like America is “normal” again before the election. Let us hope that school boards across the country will get their priorities straight – the health of the students and the school staff.
Or maybe America’s teachers’ unions will use their power of collective bargaining to bargain for the health of their members and students.
Good Luck on this one America!