Sunday, January 24, 2021

Philly Teachers Have the Right Idea--Vaccinate Before Opening

I'm a big fan of common sense, even if  it's the least common of all the senses. And in Philadelphia, the union is saying no to school openings until all staff is vaccinated. That seems like the best way to open school buildings. This is an important step to remove the terror and loathing of so many teachers and other employees (who of course should be vaccinated along with the teachers).

What I don't see in this demand is the students. Frankly, they should be vaccinated as well. It's not exactly a win-win if school employees are protected but students are not. I'm not seeing a net positive if students are contracting the virus and making their families sick and/ or dead. In fact, if vaccines aren't available to all, the only kind of viable building openings would be masked, socially distanced, and sorely limited.

That appears to be what Philly is looking at right now, though the story is a little short on details. We've thus far been able to pull that off in NYC without any major catastrophe, but as the story points out, facts on the ground are constantly in flux. We have these new virus mutations that spread more rapidly, and the Philly union is right to take that into consideration. Really, no one knows what will change or how, and if we aren't ready to adapt, we're lost.

The question then becomes whether or not vaccines should be mandatory. I'm inclined to say yes, but at that I'm at odds with both DOE and UFT. We demand that students be vaccinated against multiple diseases. I teach newcomers, and they're often called out to be warned that if they don't receive vaccinations they will not be able to attend school. I'm at a loss to see why Covid is any different.

Of course there are exceptions. If doctors advise you not to be vaccinated, and I know at least two people for whom that's the case, then that's one. I've received the first vaccine, and if you see me and others with extra arms growing out of our heads, that might be another thing to consider. Honestly, though, it would be optimal for everyone to be vaccinated before we went back to doing what it is we actually do. 

It's the UFT position that vaccines are voluntary, and I haven't heard the city express anything different. So if you decide to exercise your personal freedom and risk getting Covid, and transmitting it to others, I guess that's your right. But I don't want to be near you until I get dose 2 and it takes effect, and I don't want any kids or colleagues near you until they have the same. I suppose if we all at least has the chance of protecting ourselves we can go back with our eyes open. (Of course it would be an awful shame for anyone to end up with their eyes permanently closed.)

These are such odd times, though. We need to be flexible and open to new situations. The chancellor uses the word "nimble" in his saccharine emails, but what he means by that is do whatever Bill de Blasio says. Alas, de Blasio is not the great leader we need at this tough time. Joe Biden now has the opportunity to be precisely what de Blasio is not, and one of his first tests will be whether he's able to ramp up production sufficiently and quickly enough to remedy this dire situation. 

I'm hopeful, which is more than I could say when Big Orange was ostensibly in charge.

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