Understanding Bullshit: School Reopenings
It’s time we faced the harsh reality that as parents we’re being asked to make an impossible decision by an administration that has made nothing but the wrong ones from the start. Not only did they bungle containing the virus early on, but they took a hard right into liberating states once people's hair became too long, and now, at the start of a giant new wave of cases, they are taking the same tactic with schools they did with everything else: (deny reality).
Here’s a simple question for you dick weeds (sorry, I meant to write Trump supporters) What is at stake ethically when we talk about reopening schools? (I’ll wait while you look up the word “ethically”) Answer: We’re talking about everything. Everything that has to do with the well-being of children, the people who love them, and the future of the country.
Trump wants you to believe that your children won’t get sick. And while it’s true that a kid’s chance of catching the virus is pretty low (thank whatever gods there may be for that one) it’s a far cry from nothing. Recent reports out of Texas show 950 positive cases in 668 childcare centers, affecting both children and staff members. The Centers for Disease Control says that about two percent of confirmed cases across the U.S. are of children under 18. With three million cases in this country, that means roughly 60,000 kids have had it. While death rates for children are low, they’re not zero, and we don’t know the long-term effects of COVID on young bodies. (Who are we sacrificing our children for?)
However, reopening schools isn’t just about risking our children, it’s also about asking adults, many of whom are well within higher risk age brackets, to face exposure. It puts teachers, support staff, crossing guards, etc., in the precarious position of either imperiling themselves by returning to work or quitting their jobs and losing their incomes. Yet, Alex Azar, the former pharmaceutical lobbyist who heads up the Department of Health and Human Services, says this won’t be a problem because there's: "no reason schools have to be in any way any different" from how hospitals have operated. "Health care workers don't get infected because they take appropriate precautions,” adding, “This can work."
But it won’t work. How do I know this? Because Azar doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. Hundreds of health care workers have already died fighting COVID and thousands more have been infected. It’s unconscionable that the head of the Department of Health and Human Services doesn't know (or mostly likely doesn’t care) about this; it’s equally unconscionable that he thinks our nation’s teachers should approach teaching as if they are frontline medical workers. (In his defense, both involve a lot of throw up).
To put this in perspective: If 22 NBA teams and 30 MLB teams can’t keep COVID out of their reopening plans, despite careful, elaborate processes that reflect their need to protect the investment of millions of dollars in their players (not to mention billions of dollars in TV and advertising deals) then how in the fuck are we supposed to safely reopen 130,000 K-12 schools that always have tissues on their supplies list because they can’t afford to buy them on their own? (How fucking stupid and/or heartless do you have to be to understand this?)
The reopening of schools has nothing to do with genuine concern for the education and wellbeing of children. Teachers, children and even toddlers are being sent into unsafe environments that will become a breeding ground for COVID. The youngest and least able to follow safety measures are being packed off to school as the lynchpin of the government’s “back to work” drive. Schools are being treated as little more than holding pens so that millions of parents can be sent to work in non-essential industries. (It’s class warfare stupid!) For the sake of corporate profits, billionaires and the politicians they’ve bought are willing to sacrifice educators, students, and parents alike. Because the interests of educators and working families stand in direct contradiction with the ruling rich and the politicians in their pay. They want us immediately back at school and work, to restore their bottom line. United Teachers Los Angeles put it well: “When politicians exhort educators and other workers to ‘reignite the economy,’” we should ask, “who are you planning to use as kindling?”
No segment of the population is better positioned than organized educators to lead a successful fightback against this idiotic idea. From West Virginia to Oklahoma to California, educators have proven over the past three years that they have the power and momentum to take on the billionaires and win. We desperately need them to do so again. The stakes couldn’t possibly be any higher. The ridiculous call to reopen schools, signals a full on return to the government’s murderous “herd immunity” policy of allowing the virus to run unchecked throughout the population. Even scientists from the government’s own SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) committee said: “We believe that decisions on school opening should be guided by evidence of low levels of COVID-19 infections in the community and the ability to rapidly respond to new infections through a local test, track and isolate strategy. There is no clear evidence that these conditions have been met.”
SAGE, made up of scientists concerned at the government’s political misuse of scientific research, has predicted an upsurge of cases following the reopening of schools, as has already happened in France, Denmark, and South Korea—countries previously recognized as exemplars in the effort to contain the virus. You would also think that the disastrous results of rushing to reopen schools in Israel would be a cautionary tale for the United States. In May, when Israel’s infection numbers were much lower than the United States’ today, the government decided to send teachers and students back to the classroom. By June, outbreaks were spreading in schools across the country, contributing to a major infection spike in the population as a whole. A Health Ministry study found that about one-third of new virus contractions occurred in educational facilities between July 10 and July 16.
COVID continues to devastate the United States far
more than any other industrialized country due to the criminal negligence of our government officials, our failed for-profit health care system, our weak welfare state, the irrationalities of American federalism, and a decades-long, billionaire-backed decimation of governmental capacities. And no matter what creative administrative recommendations are made for classroom social distancing, mask-wearing, student pods, and staggered class times, opening schools in the throes of a pandemic risks triggering a public health catastrophe, particularly for low-income working class families.
And so, like countless other Americans, my family awaits the unveiling of our school district’s plan for bringing kids back to school (which will be delivered over Zoom, because it’s not safe to hold a public meeting). They will likely present some level of unworkable plan that involves reduced in-person time coupled with remote learning, a maze of compromises that serves the virus and the Trump administration. And once the Zoom call ends, Americans will face decisions that are far above their expertise about what is safe, what is smart, and what is sensible. The only thing we’ll know for sure, is what we’ve felt from our leaders for months: we’re on our own.
Thus, whenever you hear people talk about the importance of getting children back to school, even though our case numbers hit new records nearly every single day, ask them how many sick children, teachers, cafeteria workers, janitors, and bus drivers are worth it. (Now do the same calculation for the dead ones).