Friday, November 12, 2021

COVID Testing in City Schools Is a Sham

In our school, people come in once a week to test for COVID. That's a good idea. Of course, for students, it's completely optional. If they don't feel like being tested, well, they aren't. This in itself precludes stats from being reliable, and it doesn't take the Oracle of Delphi to know that this is the intent of Mayor Bill de Blasio. He never wanted to close schools, he still doesn't, and what he doesn't find out will close as few schools as possible. 

So what we know, actually, is only the percentage of volunteers who have contracted the virus. If your parents don't grant permission for testing, if you don't want to find out, or even if you're too lazy to walk to the testing center, you will simply never know. Given the fact that a whole lot of COVID cases are wholly asymptomatic, this places the school population at large at wholly unnecessary risk. 

In our school, there is an announcement made when testing is available. It's always at the same time, in the morning. Our school, to ease overcrowding and make social distancing possible, at least sometimes, is on a 14 period day. This means that our testing pool includes only those who come in the morning. A full half of our students are not tested, ever, So on top of the issues that already make stats unreliable, our stats, in the largest school in Queens, the most overcrowded in the city, are only half as reliable as those of other schools. 

In my brief deaning career, I could get away from my post and get tested, and I did so at every available opportunity. If I contract COVID, I ought not to come to work. That's not just about my health, but also about the health of my students, many unvaccinated, and their families. My AP offered me a deal to get out of deaning, but it entailed my teaching consecutively periods 1-4. I was fine with that, actually. I'm happy to do most of my work in the beginning of the day.

The problem, though, is that this means I, like half the students and teachers in our building, will simply never be tested. Of course I take every precaution. At work, I wear KF94 masks from Korea, which are supposed to be more reliable than their Chinese counterparts, often counterfeited. So I'm hopeful my risk factor is low. But who really knows? Every week there's some new story, some new development. 

I went to an administrative AP and asked if they could have testing at different times during the day. She told me that admin was aware of the problem and asked them to do so. This notwithstanding, the people who do the testing show up when they show up, always at the same time. 

So the issue is somewhere higher than the people who do the actual testing. Is this a deliberate act to try and minimize positive results? Maybe. More likely it's just administrative indifference. It's somehow convenient to do it now, so screw common sense, which is largely overrated, and probably the least common of all the senses anyway. 

This is another de Blasio failure, whether deliberate or not. The stats we get are borderline meaningless. We really have no idea what's going on, and it's in the mayor's interest to keep things that way. After all, he's unlikely to get anywhere in his quest to become governor, but if people know what's really going on his chances go from zero to less than zero.

It kind of makes you wonder why New York City is so absolutely determined to never, ever have a good mayor.

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