Friday, August 27, 2021

Mayor de Blasio Does Own Research, Errs on Side of Convenience Rather than Caution

The city now has a plan of sorts to open schools in a pandemic. I say "of sorts" because it's more notable for what it ignores than what it includes. In a nation where COVID is exploding, in a world where the Delta variant is booming back even in widely vaccinated countries, de Blasio's plan seems to assume things are looking up. Of course, this isn't surprising. He was totally unprepared last September, so why expect any improvement this year?

This year, the city is also not setting a threshold number of COVID cases to close a school. Instead, the city will only consider closures if there is “widespread transmission”... 

Of course. Why nip things in the bud when you can simply wait until things get really bad? Why set a standard when you can sit on your ass in Gracie Mansion and hope the inevitable doesn't occur? I speak as someone who detests online learning. I taught on Zoom for over a year and it tore my heart out. Just about everything I love about being a teacher didn't happen. However, IMHO, health and safety trump all. 

That's not the only questionable aspect of the city plan, though. It's cutting way back on testing, 10% twice a month, and not bothering to test those who are vaccinated. While I am very much pro-vaccination, that alone does not prevent the spread of this disease. If it did, highly-vaccinated Israel would not be grappling with a surge. That's not all, though:

Now, school closures will be on a “case by case basis,” de Blasio said, but a summary released by the DOE did not specify a definition for widespread transmission.

If we don't even know what "widespread transmission" is, how on earth can we depend on this plan? Are we supposed to hope our bungling mayor, whose aversion to common sense is widely documented, will suddenly make the right decision? More likely disasters will occur, public outcry will explode, and he'll have no alternative but to act. 

Here's another gem:

For middle and high school classes, fully vaccinated students and staff who are exposed to confirmed cases but remain asymptomatic can continue to attend school and will be “encouraged” to take a COVID-19 test three to five days after potential exposure.

In yet another "hope for the best" policy, we're expected to be optimistic that vaccinated people will check whether or not they've contracted COVID. If they don't, oh well, we "encouraged" them, so this isn't the mayor's fault. 

There is a little sense here:

For elementary schools, with younger students under the age of 12 who are not currently eligible to get vaccinated, a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in a classroom will mean all students will be quarantined for ten days while receiving remote learning

Finally, the mayor has taken a step back from his absolutist declaration that there would be no remote instruction. There will have to be remote instruction of some sort. We still don't know, of course, how many parents will flatly decline to send their kids to schools. We do know that students under 12 cannot be vaccinated. Will full attendance, or close to full attendance, conditions are vastly changed. It's beyond belief that under these conditions, the mayor thinks relaxing testing is the way to go. This is a recipe for disaster, and there's no need for it whatsoever. 

As far as I know, the city has not bothered to negotiate remote instruction with UFT. Personally, I'm willing to do Google Classroom again, and it's hard for me to imagine how we fail to use it, at least as insurance of sorts. That said, it's extra work. There needs to be an agreement, and the DOE's cluelessness in not working this out is typically short-sighted.  

Soon, along with my UFT colleagues, I'm going back. In an effort to attempt social distance, our obscenely overcrowded school has adopted a 14-period day. That's because the DOE, in yet another breach of promise, couldn't be bothered to find us additional space. The consistent lack of planning will certainly be costly, and very likely deadly. 

There's a new city commercial playing suggesting, "please get vaccinated." Please do. That's the least we can do. 

Unfortunately, the least we can do is far from sufficient.

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