Saturday, June 13, 2020

School in the Time of Covid

Florida has set a new record for new Covid cases. This, evidently, is what happens when you have some MAGA moron in charge whose sole interest is promoting business and commerce at the expense of humanity. What can the rest of us learn from that?

Israel opened schools. They have about 40% more students than NYC does. However, since they reopened, they've had to close 130 schools, and the number is growing rapidly. Are there any lessons there, and is Bill de Blasio paying the remotest attention?

Well, there's the obvious. Covid is still around, and when people get together it spreads. I've seen friends die, family sick, and watched others I know lose family members. I know a UFT member, generally healthy, in his 30s, who spent weeks in a hospital fighting Covid-induced pneumonia. I'm sure you have your own stories. Everyone does.

Despite this, the governor, mayor and chancellor can't wait to open school buildings. They labor under the outlandish misconception that, if we provide space, schoolchildren will practice social distancing. These are the same guys who deemed it an unacceptable risk to have Easter week off. You know, if they were off, they'd all go out and socialize, talk to one another, and spread the virus. Of course if we sent them into school buildings they'll behave completely differently, say the Three Wise Men. Just don't ask them why.

My school building has 4,600 students. The geniuses at Tweed have decided, when we reopen, that we can accommodate fewer than 1,000. This means that students can come in, at most, once a week. However, special education students, lucky them, are prioritized. They are in more need of face to face instruction, they say. Evidently they're also more in need of high infection risk too, but hey, those are the breaks.

My students are also in need of face to face instruction. It's what I do best. However, I've no doubt a lot of my students are undocumented. I'm sure that, even if medical care is available to them, many won't take advantage. For one thing, they don't know English. Many don't bother with things like Parent-Teacher Conferences, even though we do all we can to accommodate speakers of other languages. In case that's not enough, a lot of families have a healthy fear of Trump's Gestapo Lite, otherwise known as ICE. Some might ignore sickness, especially at early stages,

Not only that, but the mayor has determined some teachers won't be able to report to the building. Staff of a certain age are at high risk. Staff with compromised immune systems ought not to come. Those with certain diseases might be at unacceptable risk. I'm hearing that they expect 20% of staff won't be reporting in person.

So what does that suggest for the other 80%? Evidently their risk level is acceptable. They can contract the virus and they probably won't die.  That ought to be good enough for anyone, of course. Never mind that they may live with people who fall into the other 20%, and never mind they may transmit it to them as well.

Well, that's a pretty good option for families who don't want their kids bringing Covid home in their backpacks. Of course, some families haven't got the option of leaving kids home. However, since most kids will be going to school buildings one or two days a week tops, these families haven't got options, or at least good ones. (And this is a prime example of the inequity de Blasio and Carranza frequently pretend to address.)

Yet the mania from the mayor and chancellor is for 25% steam ahead. Is it worth it to open buildings so that students can show up one or two days a week?

I don't think so. Online education sucks compared to the face to face kind. However, if the mayor and chancellor would help us out by promoting real faces on Zoom and Google Hangouts, they'd help both us and our students. As far as I can tell, they aren't even going to bother with that.

I hope my high school students graduate with more common sense than Cuomo or de Blasio. Otherwise I fear for their survival.
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