Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Blaz Has to Bend

Mayor de Blasio, like last year, has no solid plan whatsoever two weeks before schools open. We already know that he's decided that social distancing will only happen if he deems it convenient. Perish forbid the city, rolling in federal cash, should find actual space for overcrowded schools.

The chancellor is now suggesting more testing will occur where the virus is more virulent. Perhaps, having actually taught for only a year and a half, she's unaware that city students tend to commute. 

So far, it looks like the theme here is separate and not equal either. Maybe the mayor and chancellor deem this a new concept. Where the DOE motto was once, "Children First, Always,"  now it appears to have devolved into, "Fairness, shmairness."

The most grotesque form of unfairness, actually, is out of the hands of the mayor and chancellor. That is the fact that no one under 12 is so far eligible for vaccination. Sure, people say that young people don't suffer that much from Covid. It seems, though, that that is nonsense, and our young people are at far more risk than we'd thought.  

If I had a child under 12, I'd think twice before sending her to school at 100% capacity. I can't imagine I'm alone at that. In fact, I can't imagine there aren't thousands, or tens of thousands of parents thinking the same thing. De Blasio is playing a game, hoping everyone will say, "Sure, I'll send my kid to school and hope for the best." Maybe those parents don't know that social distancing is only a thing when de Blasio finds it convenient. Maybe they don't know that the much-ballyhooed plan from the DOE to help overcrowded schools is to do nothing and hope for the best. Maybe they trust the mayor.

I doubt that, though. When parents decline to send their kids to school, de Blasio's DOE will have to accommodate them. I don't see him saying, "Screw you, send your kids to overcrowded schools, hope they don't get sick and die or infect others." That's too much even for him. 

Another thing that will happen, likely after it becomes popular elsewhere, is vaccinations will be mandatory for those eligible to receive them. If the city can mandate MMR vaccinations, it can mandate COVID vaccinations for all but those who have legitimate health concerns that preclude them. If LA can demand staff be vaccinated, we can demand it too. 

I'm mystified as to why people object. The fact is, employers can demand we be vaccinated. Of course, you do have the freedom to decline. If you want to go live in a cave somewhere, give up on the notion of work, and never go anywhere in public, you have that right. However, we are a community, and the very least we can do is to make sure our brothers and sisters don't get sick and die of COVID. If that's too much for you, maybe teaching is not the correct career choice for you. You can always be a hermit, or a beachcomber or something. 

I'm not at all sure where UFT leadership is on this. I'd conjecture they are moving in this direction, but slowly. Randi Weingarten seems to be considering vaccine mandates, which is a huge improvement over NYSUT's inexplicable and inexcusable opposition. I think Randi's move signals a willingness to accept the inevitable, and UFT leadership (as well as NYSUT's) will be on board by the time it happens. Ultimately, I can't imagine any union leader fighting for our right to infect our students and each other. 

It saddens me a lot to imagine remote instruction, because I personally can't stand it. I'm hopeful though, as a high school teacher, every single person in our building will be vaccinated or turned away. That's the only sane way to approach a full opening. I believe sanity will prevail here, though it may take some time. 

For my brothers and sisters teaching lower grades, I don't see how that's viable until younger students too can get vaccinated. It was remarkable that the city was able to open schools to the degree it did last year. With the intervention of UFT, opening was as safe as it could possibly be. I honestly don't see how that will be possible with everyone in attendance. I only hope the mayor doesn't wait until people get sick and die before coming to his senses.

This mayor is late for everything. I only hope we don't have to wait until we're discussing late teachers and students before he changes course.

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