Sunday, August 22, 2021

Who Has Three Feet? Not NYC's Children

It appears the CDC, in its infinite wisdom, recommends three feet social distancing for schools, if possible. If not, well, do other stuff and hope for the best. However, it still recommends six feet social distancing for everyone and everywhere else.

Let's look at that, just for a moment. Is there anyone, anywhere, who thinks schools are less contagious locales than others? If you're a working schoolteacher, how many times have you brought less contagious viruses home? How many times have you had the flu?

Is there anyone on earth, other than the geniuses at the CDC, who can offer a rationale for having lower health standards in schools than in bars or restaurants, or anywhere else? In fact, Mayor de Blasio is asking New Yorkers to provide proof of vaccines to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, and other indoor venues. Why, then, is the chancellor simply asking students nicely to get vaccinated?

But hey, I'm crazy like that. I think, given we're facing a deadly disease, we should err on the side of caution. The mayor and chancellor, on the other hand, think we should err or the side of being agreeable, not offending anti-vaxxers too much, and hoping no one dies right away.  This notwithstanding, I'm just not feeling the love. 

Three feet is a pretty low bar, and we can't meet even that. We were able to largely keep students safe last year, but no one seems to point out that this was because we had far fewer students in attendance. With, theoretically at least, everyone in attendance this year, the notion of lowering our standards seems absurd at best, and fatal at worst. There are voices who see major issues here, particularly given the fact that most of our kids will not be vaccinated. Three feet of social distancing?

The 3 feet of physical distancing recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which SPS is following “to the extent possible,” is an outdated standard based on less transmissible variants

That, in fact, is an understatement. We already know they demand six feet elsewhere, and if anyone has a rationale for the lower standard in school buildings, I'm all ears. This is not how we keep our children and families safe, particularly given the more virulent Delta strain (not to mention whatever that mutates into). 

Last night, despite an impending hurricane, Mayor de Blasio saw fit to hold an outdoor concert in Central Park. You can imagine how that worked out.

I later read that the mayor, in his infinite wisdom, asked people to shelter in somewhere around the park, but after two hours it was canceled.  New Yorkers anxiously waiting to hear Barry Manilow to sing Copacabana had to watch him do it on CNN. I'm personally grateful to not only have missed the concert, but also the CNN segment, but hey, Barry's not my thing.

My thing is looking out for the students of New York City, along with my colleagues in the schools. It's pretty clear to me that Mayor de Blasio is happily sleepwalking through this emergency with all the planning and forethought he put into his abysmal and embarrassing 2020 presidential run. Unfortunately, the stakes here are much higher. 

I don't mind if Mayor de Blasio makes an ass out of himself. This is America, and he has that right. However, his characteristic lack of planning is less than charming when we're risking the lives and health of over a million New Yorkers. Someone who isn't insane needs to have a stern word with the mayor. Could it be the chancellor? Could it be us?

It doesn't really matter who it is. What's really important is when. With less than three weeks until schools open, we don't have time to play games.

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