Friday, June 26, 2020

Happy Summer (More or Less)

This is often a joyous day for UFT members. I'm sure it is for many still. On this day, a friend of mine used to give a party at his home. It was the best day of the year. We had the entire summer to look forward to. Sometimes even APs would show up. There was no thought of all the nonsense or pettiness that may have befallen us.

Everyone brought food. There was a barbecue. There were drinks. We met one another's significant others. People would bring their children. Two years ago, my friend retired, and no one picked up the tradition. Maybe it's because he had this great big backyard that could really accommodate a big party. You could have gotten married in that yard, if you were so inclined.

I don't think I particularly missed that party last year. I'm not sure why not. This year is different. This year, even if my friend hadn't retired, we'd have had to forego the party. It's not safe, you see, for huge groups to get together and mingle.

Of course, that doesn't stop people. On the Freeport Nautical Mile, just blocks from my house, I walk my dog past an outdoor bar or three every day. People don't social distance. Servers wear masks that don't cover their noses. I wouldn't set foot in one of these places. Of course, I'm painfully aware we're in the midst of a pandemic. These people aren't helping, Nor is our ostensible leader.

Let's follow that logic a little. Maybe if we stopped airing weather reports there'd be less rain. If only we hadn't made all those pregnancy tests available there'd be fewer babies. And if only we would get rid of that US Border Patrol we'd have fewer undocumented immigrants.

Those of us who wish to know what's really going on look at evidence, and then form our opinions. Trump and his ilk make up their minds first, then invent evidence to support what they wish were happening. And of course they have an entire bogus news network called Fox to support such idiocy.

Here in the real world there's a pandemic going on, despite our best intentions. Here in the real world the virus is spreading rapidly in over half the country. South Korea, once seen as a textbook example of control, had to close its schools once again. Beijing had to close its schools as well. Israel's schools remained open only two weeks before they started retreating once again. Florida is going to open in August, and it will be a disaster.

While Chancellor Carranza demanded 108,000 signatures from epidemiologists before he'd close the city schools, I haven't seen him call for anything resembling that as he and the bumbling mayor contemplate reopening them. I don't know if the chancellor gets out much, but my observations suggest that social distancing is just not happening as it should, and that a reopening of school buildings will be an unmitigated disaster.

I'm hoping that someone puts some thought and imagination into exactly what opening NY schools will mean. There are models everywhere that tell us. There are ways we could use school buildings productively, and there are students in need of quiet, peaceful places to work. Let's serve those students, just as we served the kid of first responders these last few months.

The alternative, of course, if going face first into yet another disaster. You'd think we'd know better. So far, I've seen little evidence that's the case. Those who advocate for a quick reopening of buildings have little or no more vision than the guy above with the unnaturally orange face and hair.    
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