Sunday, December 26, 2021

On De Blasio's Way Out, He Does All He Can to Juke COVID Stats

On our last day before break, period 5, there was an announcement--Attention please...then it stopped. Now it was the voice of the AP security, so I knew it meant there was testing in our building. I was in the teacher cafeteria, not far from where I knew the testing to be. 

I'm not sure why I hung out waiting to hear the full announcement, but I did. Afterward,, I picked up my lunch bag and ran like hell to the testing site. I ran into a speech teacher on the way, also moving very fast toward the auditorium, in front of which the testing takes place. 

We got in a line with around 20 people ahead of us. Things looked good for us, particularly since neither of us had a period 6 class. Now think about just how many working UFT members happened to be excluded by that. I know well because the last few times they showed up, I was teaching and couldn't go at all. 

There's more to it, though. Evidently the testing people were there periods three and four as well. At that time, they were not permitted to test any staff. They are not allowed to test staff until all students have been tested. And that's not all. They are only allowed to test unvaccinated students who have been given permission to be tested. From what I heard, in our building there are only 37 such candidates. That's out of about 4500 students. So despite Mayor de Blasio's stated mission of testing 10%, in our building they are allowed to test a little above 1% max. I don't know how many kids were tested, but I do know the testers spent a good deal of their time doing nothing, allowed to test no one at all. 

For us, of course, there is yet another hurdle. We had to register, giving our explicit permission to be tested. For Mayor de Blasio, evidently, the act of an adult standing on line waiting to be tested does not constitute consent. We stood, wondering whether or not we'd make the 11 AM deadline. Evidently the testing kits were scheduled to turn into pumpkins at that hour, so if we didn't make it, too bad for us.

I wondered just how many would make it from the rapidly growing line to the actual test. Someone came and told me that total staff was 370, so they were only allowed to test 37. Although the DOE didn't remotely get close to testing 10% of our kids, they were holding onto a strict deadline of 10% of staff. I told my friend the speech teacher that whenever I took my dog Toby to get vaccinated at Petco, an employee walked down the line and explained to everyone how long they would have to wait. 

Fortunately, a proactive UFT secretary had the same idea. She took the list from the testers and walked down the line, checking who had and had not granted formal permission to be tested. Several disappointed colleagues exited the line, mistakenly having thought their mere presence constituted consent. (Not in de Blasio world it doesn't.) The secretary warned people beyond the 37 cutoff point that they may not make it, but that if other people left the line they might. 

Every single thing I've described points to a plan not to measure infection, but rather to avoid detecting it. It's quite clear that Mayor de Blasio, taking a page from esteemed former President Donald Trump, thinks less testing means less COVID. Of course they're both wrong. Everyone in our school, and everyone in our system would benefit from accurate infection numbers. We get a weekly report from UFT, but given the unrealistic testing level it can't be remotely accurate. 

I have deep reservations about Eric Adams as mayor. Regarding education, I have 6 million reasons to believe he will be a disaster, every one of them a dollar from charter interests. That said, it's entirely possible he could take a realistic view of safety, despite his misguided talk of unmasking students. Hopefully, someone will straighten him out on that. After all, parents who die from COVID don't enroll their kids in charters.

We can disagree about how schools should be run. Hopefully we can come to common ground on keeping students and staff as safe as possible.

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