Yeah, everyone has given up. There are people partying at bars in Manhattan, attending packed protests in Brooklyn, getting Italian sausages on the Jersey boardwalk. And half the people in those crowds aren’t even bothering with masks.
Here, the former residents of Apt. 11D, are mostly keeping with the program. We are having a lot of extended family get togethers in the backyard (pictures soon), but with no hugs or kisses. We still avoid restaurants and cook mostly at home. We still only go to the supermarket once per week. Steve and the boys still work and attend school from home. Jonah’s internship with the local Representative is all online. We’re going to drive down to North Carolina all in one super long day, so we don’t have to deal with an overnight stay at a hotel.
We did go to one protest, but it wasn’t super crowded, it was outdoors, and everyone wore masks. I think it was relatively low risk.
We are giving Jonah more latitude, because he’s 21, and he needs to be around peers very badly. So, we are letting him hang out with small groups of friends from time to time. He has an evening job as a busboy lined up, which will start in a couple weeks, after the state lets restaurants open. He’ll have to take a shower and change his clothes at the end of every shift.
We’re comfortable with the status quo. It’s working for us. Steve and I could keep this up for a very long time. It’s the boys we worry about. This situation isn’t healthy for them.
So, we’ll send Jonah to school, even if classes are online, in the fall. He can do his classes from his dorm room, while socializing with people his age. Maybe he’ll go back and forth from home, so he isn’t there seven days a week. Not sure. We’ll figure out the details later.
All this is such a major disaster for poor Ian. He’s a kid who thrives on routine, structure, and challenge. All that is gone. And he’s a kid who very badly needs to be around peer role models to improve his social skills. And all that is gone, too. He needs to go back to school or camp ASAP, but there’s no relief in sight.
I don’t have any activities lined up for him for the summer. Last summer, he did some summer school, marching band camp, computer camp, and classes at the local community college. He was busy nearly the entire summer; he loves being busy. This year? I have 12 weeks of nothing. By the time he gets to September, he’ll be de-civilized. And that’s assuming that schools open in September. I probably shouldn’t be making assumptions.
Dave sent me a link with info about how schools in Arlington, VA are going to open in September. This district is going with a triage method – in-school education for those who need it more. And they have to do everything within a context of decreased education dollars.
Public education is going to be a hot mess in September. Many school districts aren’t making plans to open, because they can’t figure out how to do it. Parents are left in the dark. Teachers are refusing to go to schools. I am concerned that schools won’t open at all. Even worse, the whole system of public education is going to fall apart. This is super bad for my kid. But it’s even worse for the entire economy. How will the economy go back to normal, if half the workers are home with children?
The pressure on schools to open must be strong. If businesses, social life, churches, community affairs, and restaurants open up, then everything has to open, including schools and colleges. Education institutions can’t be the outliers.
My advice? Keep social distancing as much as you can manage. Wear your masks. Open windows every day. Flush your house of stale air. Avoid places with lots of people breathing in the same enclosed space for long periods of time — I call it the Bad Breath Law. If you are a parent, find private services to supplement your child’s education now, because you may rely on them even more in the fall. In fact, continue to grow your independence skills in all areas.
Please keep vigilant.
42 thoughts on “Living With Death (Plague, Day 101, June 15, 2020)”
Yeah, everyone has given up.
We’ve totally failed the marshmallow test as a country. The annoying thing is we can’t/won’t/don’t even do the easy things. (Begin whine)“I don’t wanna wear a mask. I want to go to the zoo-oo. I need to get my hair done. I want to go to the bar with my friends.”(end whine)
The thing is, this is going to set us back on the important things. When this bomb redetonates, it is going to set us back on reopening the schools. It is going to get the bars and zoos and hair salons shut down again. All because we are a nation that is a mixture of trivial children with no staying power and overwrought man babies who can’t be bothered to wear a mask or follow directions.
It isn’t like we couldn’t have done it. Germany did. New Zealand and Australia did. France and Spain have mostly knocked this out, despite being initially ravaged far more severely than us. But we were struck with a mixture of Trump’s leadership and a citizenry who is composed of a bunch of people who vote for Trump and live their lives accordingly. All the worse for the rest of us.
Jay said, “We’ve totally failed the marshmallow test as a country.”
I think that’s true. But, on the other hand, a lot of the restrictions were and are stupid, especially those on outdoor venues with moderate amounts of people. Nearly all of the outdoor restrictions were probably pointless.
“I don’t wanna wear a mask. I want to go to the zoo-oo. I need to get my hair done. I want to go to the bar with my friends.”
Two thoughts: 1. The authorities used up a lot of the public’s trust early on telling us to NOT wear mask. 2. How dangerous is the zoo, anyway?
I’ve been to our local zoo 3 times since reopening and am about to go a 4th time later this week. Here’s what it’s like:
–the workers all wear masks
–the indoor cafes and gift shop have been moved outdoors
–the indoor exhibits are closed
–there are new barriers for any exhibits where there’s no glass between people and animals
–it’s not crowded and it’s easy to stay away from other visitors
–the playgrounds in the zoo were closed until the local government opened playgrounds.
–it’s nice and shady, so it’s very nice for walking in our climate, especially early in the morning.
When I’ve been, my closest contact has been with our friends that I’ve met there. There’s minimal contact at entry or in the zoo.
Part of the recipe for failure was discouraging people from doing something useful (masks) early on while at the same time preventing people from doing safe, outdoor stuff–in fact shaming them for it. I’m now realizing that our youngest probably could have been going to the playground this whole spring with minimal risk. At least I had the guts to set up a lot of tennis dates for our middle kid, which felt risky 3 months ago, but which I’m very pleased about now in terms of keeping him active and happy.
Oh, yeah, and the frequently repeated “Stay Home” mantra was also pretty stupid.
“But we were struck with a mixture of Trump’s leadership and a citizenry who is composed of a bunch of people who vote for Trump and live their lives accordingly.”
Um, have you missed out on the events of the last 2.5 weeks? It’s not just Trump voters who have trouble waiting and following instructions. Also, you’re not giving nearly enough weight to the extremely bad judgment of various NE governors and mayors with regard to public transportation, delayed school closures and sticking sick COVID patients in nursing homes.
Um, have you missed out on the events of the last 2.5 weeks? It’s not just Trump voters who have trouble waiting and following instructions
True, the protests have the potential to be an ill-advised public health disaster. On the other hand, the people involved had a sense of urgency that I find it difficult to dispute and, in any case, they were involved in something that was of greater import than “I wanna go to the zoo-oo….”
Also, you’re not giving nearly enough weight to the extremely bad judgment of various NE governors and mayors with regard to public transportation, delayed school closures and sticking sick COVID patients in nursing homes.
Yes, some of the NE states made some mistakes. (Mine managed to do things rather well, though.) On the other hand, they did eventually shut down and learn some valuable lessons. Which, the Federal government totally dropped the ball on. While they could have been managing this disaster nationwide our orange buffoon of a president did nothing while the red states spent the time they could have been dealing with this reopening hair salons and drinking bleach, with the result that we are getting wave two in places like Arizona, Georgia, and Texas. Heckuva job, Trumpy….
In the interests of honesty, I have to update two things:
–Our local zoo does seem to have opened up at least some indoor stuff. We did not go in and are not going to go in.
–They have opened up the internal zoo playgrounds, including one enclosed slide that’s a kid magnet.
I was at the zoo yesterday with my 7-year-old and some friends and discovered that I needed to be a lot more vigilant than the last time we visited. But again, outside the play areas (which do require vigilance to prevent close contact with other kids) and the necessary interaction at the entrance and any purchases from zoo employees, going to the zoo is exactly like visiting a big urban park. It’s OUTSIDE and (aside from the playgrounds) it’s quite easy to avoid enclosed indoor spaces and close contact with people not in your group. YMMV in a big urban area with more visitors, but I’m just telling you what I personally have seen and experienced in our area and our conditions.
I don’t get why people are freaked out about the zoo. I’ve been several times since the end of May, and objectively, it’s not a bit more dangerous than Laura’s back yard (which looks fine to me). Please, somebody walk me through the science on why a zoo is super dangerous, because I’m not seeing it.
Jay, I don’t think you understand how weird and damaging the shutdown has been for young children. Our youngest has not been to school or the grocery store in 3 months. There was quite a long stretch where she was only at home with her nuclear family, doing school and playing computer games. We eventually got to the point where her conversation was a sort of non-stop loop of updates about her game (and yes, we were doing stuff with her). Things were getting WEIRD. Fortunately, since school finished, she’s been able to go back to therapy and see other humans 6 hours a week and I think/hope that that slide has been arrested and that she’ll be able to successfully rejoin her peers–but this involves a lot of contact with people outside our family.
People mention specific minor things and tut-tut over “why can’t you live without XYZ trivial thing,” but the accumulation of social privation has been brutal. If parents were doing the most extreme version to their kids on purpose, it would be (correctly) viewed as abusive: no in person school, no activities, no in-person therapy, no library, no babysitters, no playgrounds, restricted medical care, no zoo, no children’s museum (OK, I get that–it’s a petri dish), no indoor playgrounds (very important in hotter climates–but again, a petri dish), no friends, no grandparents, no pools, no beaches, no summer camp, no nothing. It’s been intolerable for people with little kids, and even with big kids, it’s been unhealthy.
It’s not reasonable to think that the strictest version of the shutdown could be maintained indefinitely, and it’s a lot more reasonable to figure out what stuff is safest and open that up.
Something I have noticed is that there are some people who believe that it’s necessary to make things as miserable as possible as possible as long as possible. The idea that if we collectively offer COVID-19 large enough human sacrifices, it will relent.
The thing is, COVID-19 does not have a brain. It doesn’t care how miserable you are making yourself and others.
We need to figure out what enjoyable, sociable activities are reasonably safe and enjoy the heck out of those. We don’t know yet exactly what those are, but a lot of people believe that distanced outdoor activities are pretty safe. There was a weird period of the shutdown where there was a lot of media and social media shaming for doing stuff that was probably low-risk. Even the much-maligned Lake of the Ozarks Memorial Day fiasco seems to have generated two (2.0) whole new COVID-19 cases. That’s good news. Let’s learn from that!
The odds seem pretty high that outdoor venues like beaches, parks, backyards, zoos and outdoor pools and outdoor activities such as tennis and badminton and maybe even outdoor dining are pretty safe. I think our goal ought to be maximizing quality of life while minimizing high risk activities (close, indoor activity).
I see that Arizona is a particular hot spot. It occurs to me that one of the big drivers of problems specifically in Arizona is that it is a high-AC use state. That’s probably true to a lesser extent of other hot or Southern states that are having outbreaks right now and it may have some bearing on the timing of US regional outbreaks (NE in the winter/spring, hotter/Southern states in the late spring/summer). I suspect that we ought to be very concerned about AC in public spaces and a lot less concerned about outdoor spaces with reasonable amounts of people.
I don’t know people who want to make everyone as miserable or possible or who think that personal suffering and hair shirts will appease the coronavirus gods. I do think there are people who do not understand what a value a particular activity is bringing another person haircuts, zoos, or therapy as examples and think they can rank the particular value for other people. And, if they are personally very risk averse and aren’t willing to do any of those things, they are judgmental of those who do take those risks . And unlike circumstances like letting your child ride a bike without a helmet, the risk taken affects the more risk averse not just by changing norms, but also by potentially exposing the risk averse person to more risk.
People have different needs (and wants) and judging them by the need, rather than by the risk is, at this point, not the harm reduction approach. In the first 6 weeks, I was (and I think my state was) going for the goal of significantly reducing the viral transmission, to flatten the curve and to bring the numbers down to test/trace/contact and to bring PPE levels to the point that we needed them.
Now, we are full on into harm reduction with a relatively high virus load across the country (and a growing one in some areas, California, Texas, Florida, and in some counties, like Yakima in Washington). So, we should be talking about which activities are safer (not safe, because the viral load in some places are pretty high) and how to manage our personal risk in that context as well as how to manage the risk of those who are providing us those services.
I don’t want to go to the zoo, but I can see that going to the zoo when it is not crowded, avoiding close contact is an example of a reasonable risk. For one thing, the zoos have animals they have to care for anyway, so when we assess worker risk, we can consider that many of the workers would have to be working anyway. I also want places where people are masked.
For the people who I am personally interacting with, I want to have open discussions of the risks we are taking and why.
I pretty much agree with just about everything you write in these two comments, AmyP. We have a beautiful lots-of-space-outside zoo close by and apart from the washroom issue (which is real, we refer to our current park/beach zone as the bladder strike zone)
I can see two issues but I don’t think they are deal breakers. One is that a zoo draws from all over the city, which makes spread geographically wider and contact tracing harder. The second is just numbers. Here on a crowded day you could easily be coughing all over 20 people in front of the orangutans.
But if people are sensible about social distancing and wear masks I honestly am with you, and the zoo saved my life as a parent, especially the year my youngest had eye surgery and had to have drops every 2 hrs so we had to stay within 2 hrs of home, at least in the initial part where everything had to be as sterile as possible.*
Weirdly, on the outdoor note…my local park, not anything that interesting except that it’s on a cliff overlooking Lake Ontario with a beautiful breeze, was so crowded on Sunday that now the police have barriers at the ends of my street. I’m allowed through but I have to move them if I’m driving the car. I’m not sure how I feel about that because…we can still use it, and all the people in apartments three blocks up who are in the heat, are barred, and we all are citizens of the same city.
*The same child informed me that zoos are now cruel and antiquated in the age of virtual reality, so, you know. 🙂
My kiddo has a friend in Taiwan, and says that they don’t think about the virus now, except for wearing masks when they are sick (which was the norm anyway). The harm reduction mode means we don’t attain that goal and that we continue to have to think about the virus for a long time. That loss is what some of us are mourning, those of who believed that we would stamp down the virus and then venture out again into a much lower risk environment. What we have instead is venturing out with risk and personal attempts at mitigating the risk and significant uncertainty. And yes, some of us are bitter about what we see as the potential alternative path. Even when we admit that it might have been impossible (politics, health care, . . . .) we imagine a better world in which we would have been able to deal with the pandemic more effectively and are sad and angry.
bj said, “That loss is what some of us are mourning, those of who believed that we would stamp down the virus and then venture out again into a much lower risk environment.”
I think that the lockdown sucked up so much political oxygen that a lot of people (including big politicians) kind of forgot that the lockdown was to buy them time to do a lot of prep work. At least as initially announced, the lockdown wasn’t meant to go on endlessly and it wasn’t supposed to be the one tool we had for dealing with COVID-19–but at some point it metamorphosized into being one of the only tools that the authorities were prepared to use.
Our county in TX reduced COVID transmission to virtually nothing during the lockdown, but we have been experiencing a surge the last couple weeks (we went from 0-2 new cases a day to around 15-20 right now). It looked for a bit as though we were headed into exponential growth, but thankfully, it flattened out–but at a level that is unprecedented for our area. I think TX could have opened playgrounds and done curbside retail earlier (in fact, possibly right away), but our other phases weren’t staggered enough. My personal suspicion is that indoor dining and bars probably should not be a thing for the foreseeable future. The governor also did a thing during reopening where local governments were forbidden to require masks. We just had a climbdown from that and our city is now requiring masks in public places (with various carve-outs for kids, health restrictions, situations where people can distance 6 feet, etc.) with fines for businesses that don’t enforce the rule. A number of other TX cities are doing the same thing. Nobody is allowed to penalize individuals who refuse masks, though, although presumably they can be forcibly ejected for trespassing if they refuse and insist on being in businesses. On the one hand, eh, on the other hand, that’s realistic in this environment. What are you going to do–arrest them? The mask rule in our city is still being phased in (and won’t have force until later this week), but I did notice a big uptick in mask wearing at the grocery yesterday.
On the bright side, a lot of masks are now cheap and abundant. I suggest everybody buy a multi-month supply now. My husband just ordered 10 KN95s on ebay for $10 total (that’s the non-medical version of N95). He also got himself a fancy schmancy (and extremely comfortable) industrial respirator with replaceable filters that last a month. We were also recently able to order a 50-pack of surgical masks for $10. Those low prices point to a decent PPE supply situation, so maybe things aren’t completely terrible?
Laura said, “I don’t have any activities lined up for him for the summer. Last summer, he did some summer school, marching band camp, computer camp, and classes at the local community college. He was busy nearly the entire summer; he loves being busy. This year? I have 12 weeks of nothing.”
We have about 7 weeks left until our private school reopens. They are opening the first week of August in order to remediate kids and also build in a cushion of extra instructional time so that if/when there are closures during 2020-2021, they will be able to get through the year’s material. We’ve also been told to pencil in a possible two extra weeks of instruction for May/June 2021. This is a moderately sized private school with a lower school building with 200ish kids plus staff and an upper school building with 200ish kids plus staff, so the total number of people is manageable. I’m really happy with the early start to the school year, because there’s very little for our rising 2nd grader to do, especially given that outdoors is pretty nasty in the summer in TX.
I haven’t talked to anybody at school (because I’m not an expert), but I’d be comfortable with the following:
–Start school as usual, but early, with reasonable precautions.
–Close down in the case of any COVID-19 among students or faculty.
–Do lots of testing.
–Open up two weeks later.
–Wash, rinse, repeat until end of school year.
Some reasonable precautions might be things like:
–Masks if possible. (It’s not going to work well for Pre-K and K.)
–More staggered start.
–Avoid having too many people in one place at the same time (lunchrooms, halls, assemblies/chapel/performances, parent meetings, front door)
–Reduce the number of bodies that occupy the same space during a single day (like don’t have everybody eat lunch in shifts in a single lunchroom).
–Maybe don’t do classroom parties/events with parents invited.
–Maybe don’t have Pre-K/K sit facing each other at tables.
–Reconsider competitive sports.
–Move a lot of stuff outdoors or into larger spaces if possible
–Flu shot for everybody who can.
I am so massively jealous that your school already has plans for remediation. Private schools are doing a good job.
Our public school did a decent job of online education and is putting contingency plans in place for the fall. They are also going ahead with summer G/T and credit recovery programs online. It’s not impossible for public schools to step up.
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Laura said, “I am so massively jealous that your school already has plans for remediation. Private schools are doing a good job.”
I’m very happy so far with our school. There are a lot of healthcare workers in the school community and I think that that will be helpful going forward in figuring out what to do. They did a lot of work load surveys this spring to fine tune their online education.
On the other hand, it is an open question whether they (and the other schools) will be able to open in August.
Related: I’ve heard of another college doing the squeeze-in-finals-before-Thanksgiving-and-finish-then thing that Notre Dame is doing. I think that’s really good.
I think private schools are reaping the benefit of being able to make the decision specifically for their own small community. For example the private school I’m familiar with knows that everyone (including the teachers) will have a home, strong internet access, sufficient computers. They also know the range of learning disabilities they are accommodating and they know the degree of parental support they can expect. For private schools, the long term concern is that the distance learning is not going to be considered cost effective by their populations — since the school, the activities, the relationships, both with peers and with families are part of the significant value of the schools.
bj said, ” For private schools, the long term concern is that the distance learning is not going to be considered cost effective by their populations — since the school, the activities, the relationships, both with peers and with families are part of the significant value of the schools.”
Right. People don’t want to spend $$$ on annoying “homeschooling” when they could expend the same effort, homeschool for real for $, and do so on a schedule that works for their families.
The financial issues are somewhat different, but public schools also face the possibility of middle class exit for 2020-2021. If I had a public school kindergartner, for example, I would not bother playing along with online education, especially if it was annoying. (High schoolers are much more motivated to stay in their current situation, though.)
Public schools have to deal with a huge number of access needs, socioeconomics, and disabilities as well as educational goals (as well as a much larger community of students and teachers). To balance all those needs, there will probably be some forms of triage, where, say students with disabilities who cannot navigate the online instruction or must be in school for other services will be given priority (our state is calling that catch all group of students, “furthest from educational justice.”). That’s going to be a hard sell even in our progressive system. I can see the coalitions of people developing to try to make sure that their own children don’t get triaged.
At this moment, I can’t fight that battle. There are just too many needs and I will chose personal investment as the way to protect my kiddo’s interests (but, I understand that I have resources to do that in ways that many others with similar children don’t).
Where I am is not open yet. We are still on a stay home order. But everywhere else in my state that is open is having clusters of up to 99 new COVID19 cases in the last few days–from going indoors in crowds. We’re still learning about this virus, and it’s changing while we learn. I don’t blame the powers that be, much, for changing their recommendations. If I had the money I’d stay home for the next 2-3 years until we have widespread inoculation with a tested vaccine. And it seems like some of the incredibly wealthy are actually doing that. There was an article in NYT that mentioned it:
Some executives are beginning to commute again, so the helicopter company Blade has started its seven-day service earlier than usual. Without day-trippers or middle-class vacationers and their crowded sublets, it has been, for the lucky few, “the summer we had long wanted, busy, but not too much so, and quiet enough to hear the birdsong,”
Meanwhile some politicians say we should go back to work (and justify not extending the emergency extra unemployment benefit). To what jobs? What jobs are we supposed to get? I was laid off; my job is gone for now. My roommate’s job is gone (he and a dozen coworkers were laid off in April). My son and his friends (all in their early 30s) are furloughed or laid off and the jobs don’t exist. What jobs do exist are mainly low-wage (minimum wage or a tiny bit more) jobs without benefits – restaurant take out, janitorial/housekeeping, grocery workers, warehouse and delivery drivers.
Ugh. Sorry about your job, galasticjew!
My understanding was that there was a fear that there would be a shortage of masks for medical personnel that drove the whole “don’t wear masks” thing. Also evidence was limited initially on the efficacy of masks.
I agree that outdoor activities are probably safe if they are non contact. Sadly there are a bunch of churches just north of me that are itching to open. I want to scream “when you pray, go to your room and shut your door!”
Well, and the problem now is that Trump won’t wear a mask. One would imagine that he could, and that would have a significant effect on the behavior of his supporters. Masks are not fun to wear, but if they sold Trump branded masks & Trump was pictured wearing one (even if he didn’t wear it while he spoke at his rally)? Wouldn’t the people who continue supporting him through the predatory behavior & who he thinks would support him if he killed someone on 5th avenue buy in?
Well, and the problem now is that Trump won’t wear a mask.
Yes, this is just the worst. Not just that he won’t set an example and wear a mask (but rather that he goes out of his way to set a *bad* example), but rather this is just exhibit A in his complete abdication of leadership and responsibility.
(But worse? The bleach drinking 40% of the country who are going to vote for him anyway…)
Anonymous said, “Masks are not fun to wear, but if they sold Trump branded masks & Trump was pictured wearing one (even if he didn’t wear it while he spoke at his rally)?”
There are Trump-branded masks. Look on Amazon–there are dozens and dozens of them. I just saw a balaclava that features Trump as Captain America…
And there are official ones, too–I’ve gotten plenty of begging emails promising me a “free” Trump or patriotic mask if I make a campaign contribution.
It would be nice if Trump would wear a mask now and then…but it would be largely symbolic, given the aggressive testing regimen at the White House.
Jay said, “(But worse? The bleach drinking 40% of the country who are going to vote for him anyway…)”
You got some stats on 40% of the public drinking bleach?
The MN Dept of Education is circulating an online survey for parents regarding Distance Learning. It’s all over Facebook. It asks what worked well and what didn’t, would parents feel comfortable sending their kids to school in the fall, and leaves a space for an open-ended comment. I’m assuming the results will be made public at some point. I will definitely pass on the results to Apt 11D as soon as I see them.
The supts and principals are having regular (weekly?) conference calls with MDE and sometimes the governor. My principal told me that right now the rumor is we’ll have a hybrid model…split the school into two groups. Group A comes to school on Monday, while Group B stays at home and does the same coursework through distance learning. Tuesday, vice-versa. Many, many questions to be answered on how that would look in reality. You can imagine all those questions so I won’t take the time to type them.
I don’t know one single teacher that doesn’t want to go back to school in the fall.
“I don’t know one single teacher that doesn’t want to go back to school in the fall.”
I teach college, not K-12, so I don’t know if I count but…
I would love to go back to school in the fall. I would love for this virus to be under control. But it’s not, and so I am really not looking forward to going back in the fall. I can teach 2 of my courses online, but I also like to teach the Honors intro comp course in the fall, so I will need to be there in person for that.
I agree that the virus has not been vanquished and that there will be risk.
I also know a lot of K-12 teachers who want to go back and some who will retire if they can’t (who do not want to teach online), especially teachers of younger children. They do want safety, though, but, I think, at this point, they recognize that safety will not come from eliminating the virus (or even robust test/trace/isolate). So, that means risk. But, essential workers did have to take risk (health care workers, but also grocery, delivery, meat packers, crop pickers, . . . .). Schools closed because we were worried about the safety of everyone (the students & the teachers) and because it was a way of suppressing a possible vector of spread. If we decide those two concerns are manageable, I think teachers have to expect that, if they want to continue to work, they will need to accept the same burden as other essential workers.
This thinking is a shift for me, but I can’t see demanding Safeway workers to keep working while completely giving up on education (especially for those subsets of children who really are not being educated now, and who would require face to face instruction). Instructors at special risk (Wa Post is reporting that those with underlying conditions are 12X more likely to die) will need to use their disability clauses in their contract to ask for modifications/leave/etc. We can close the schools for other public health reasons, but teachers need to be thinking of themselves as health care providers, those providing a necessary service.
I don’t blame teachers for being afraid of the classroom. Or professors. They’re scared, too. But, by all accounts, virtual education did not work, because there were not enough live zoom classes. But if teachers don’t go back, then taxpayers won’t pay for schools. Everybody else has gone back to work — some in physical spaces, some at home — so they are going to push teachers to do the same.
I have no idea what the right answer is. I just see trouble on the horizon.
But, by all accounts, virtual education did not work, because there were not enough live zoom classes.
The question is, how much is enough?
I don’t mean that as sarcastic rhetoric. I honestly wonder how much to expect.
Our (public school) online education was four hours and fifteen minutes of class contact time per week (45 minutes X 7) plus office hours and sectionals.
This did not seem to be quite enough but I am left wondering how much *is* enough? One thing I figured out is that 45 minutes a day of class contact is less intensive than 45 minutes online. In classes they had a fair amount of group work and individual seatwork that did not translate to online contact time.
Obviously if we go online again in the fall we want more. But how much more? I think that 4-5 hours of online contact would be draining for the teachers *and* the students. So there will probably be less.
There was an edsurge article by a private school that talked about how they had deliberately re-imagined their remote learning schedule. I’m not finding it, but it showed their schedlue. They’d previously designed an in person schedule that had 65 minute classes (a trend in private schools, which is supposed to encourage deep learning). They tried 65 minute classes in Zoom and found them to be an utter failure. They revisited and changed the schedule to 45 minute classes with 15 minute breaks, all starting on the hour. I think, 4 classes, for 3 hours of synchronous instruction. They also had office hours that could bring the total up to 4 hours (but, I think the additional hour would be voluntary).
My own kiddo had about 6 hours a week of zoom classes in four of his classes and none in the other two (one teacher couldn’t manage with his own family responsibilities the other was an old fashioned teacher teaching math who did not think it useful). His biggest complaint was the unpredictability of the classes. Pulling together the schedule individual, based on individual teacher’s schedules meant that he didn’t always have the same class at the same time (he normally had a 5 day schedule that was identical on each day, each class met at the same time each day, when in physical school). He also said that a big problem with the two classes that didn’t have a class meeting time was that they did not have a regular time for assignments.
My son’s assessment of class time was similar to Jay’s. More zoom time was not the goal (though he would have liked a meeting in each of his classes). He doesn’t want more than 2 hours a day, because he said that in a regular school day, class time is used in ways that it can’t be in zoom (i.e. for small group discussion, for working on things while the teacher observes). He thinks the zoom class works for direct instruction and structure, but is stressful for the rest of the activities that normally happen in his classrooms. He finds the zoom instruction a high energy, demanding environment that he couldn’t possibly do for the 27+ hours of classtime he’d normally have in school.
bj said, “He finds the zoom instruction a high energy, demanding environment that he couldn’t possibly do for the 27+ hours of classtime he’d normally have in school.”
So it’s kind of analogous to the use of time in college classes, where there are also fewer contact hours.
I’m worried about the case rises, though hopeful about the lack of concurrent huge rises in deaths. For example, California’s case count has been consistently rising while their deaths have not. Florida and Texas also seem to be maintaining a stable fatality rate. But, Florida and Texas are seeing their positivity rates go up (which is a sign that the increase in cases is not merely an increase in tests)
A report is circulating that the Missouri hair stylists who were COVID+ and cut the hair of 140 customers did *not* transmit the disease to their customers. A third were tested, others are past the 2 week quarantine period. It’s possible that some of the non-tested individuals might have been asymptomatic carriers, but, in general, if valid, that’s a hopeful result. The hair stylists wore masks.
If masks are moderately effective at preventing transmission to others wearing masks might mitigate a number of risks. I hope that’s the case, because it might make the protests in our neck of the woods (in which many are masked) safer.
bj said, “For example, California’s case count has been consistently rising while their deaths have not. Florida and Texas also seem to be maintaining a stable fatality rate.”
Probably too early to say (so, knock on wood), but the current surge in our county seems to be less fatal than the March outbreak. We have more cases than then, but fewer deaths, which is weird. I believe this is happening in other places and people have mentioned the possibility that it’s because of younger COVID cases. There are a bunch of theories on this, but it is a thing. I expect that younger people have been out and about a lot more the last month.
WA’s OSPI has circulated a document telling districts to plan for face to face instruction while prioritizing those who are “furthest form educational justice.”: https://www.k12.wa.us/sites/default/files/public/workgroups/Reopening%20Washington%20Schools%202020%20Planning%20Guide.pdf
I’m enjoying the updates, and a little horrified at how things are going down there. We had 374 new cases today for the whole country. Unfortunately most of them are in Toronto, so we’re still locked down (modified Stage 1, almost everywhere else is in Stage 2). I’m still grocery shopping once a week if possible although I’ll now pick up milk if we run out. The growing season at our farm has started so our CSA delivery is a welcome addition. Soooo much rhubarb. 🙂
AmyP, I get your frustration but I guess I see it the other way – outside things were locked down until we knew better, and now we know better. I’d rather be wrong than dead. Mask advice went the same way in Canada and I do think it was partly motivated by supply and by thinking about it a bit the wrong way around – a fabric/non-n95 mask won’t keep someone from getting Covid-19 on its own. But now we kind of understand that it might stop someone from /giving/ it and cumulatively that helps a lot, so here we are getting used to them.
Retail is open in a limited way. We bought shoes for my growing kids, and I bought paint at Home Depot, but otherwise we’ve stuck to curbside pickup. We don’t do takeout or restaurants right now since I’m not working, same thing for non-essential shopping other than plants and house paint and the occasional science or craft kit for sanity, so that’s no issue and it’s becoming a bit of a thing with me…the last takeout we got was March 12, how long can we go?
Summer day camps are sort-of slated to go ahead but hugely reduced. The art camp my kids usually go to has 45 normally and is accepting 8, EIGHT, kids per 2-week session. We are not taking those spots. I’m running our own Writing Boot Camp at home and developing a curriculum for it, benefit of unemployment. We’re doing a day on local flora (field notebooks), a science fair project for each kid at their level, a weekly trip to a local monument/place of local history (research/non-fiction) and watching one video per week with creative writing attached…because both my kids suck at writing.
Still no info on September school in Ontario, but I’m guessing we’ll go back if we keep on the current case path. Not sure how we’ll handle that as a family.
I’m starting a certificate (UX/UI design) related to my old field (which was digital media) through a local university, all courses online. I’m stoked about that. If I can do two courses each term I could potentially be through by November although there’s one elective I would like that is only offered in January, since even when my studio reopens, it won’t have the funds to keep the back office going.
Basically I think we’re making our decisions week by week. 🙂
Is there any reason to think this doesn’t chug along killing 0.5% to 1% of the people infected until there’s a vaccine or herd immunity, either of which seem to be unlikely until after at least half the population has been exposed?
I do think treatments are getting better — the steroid treatment being released is an example, earlier care, better decisions about who gets ventilators. Younger people are both less likely to die and also to get very sick. Recent discussions of transmission among children suggest they are both less likely to catch and to transmit the virus. So, I hope that it’s not 0.5-1% of the people dying. And, taking measures like masks, hand washing, staying out of crowds will decrease the number of people who get infected (as it does for flu, as well). The fatalities are decreasing in the US even as the caseload seems to have stabilized nationally. And, states like Texas are seeing non-skyrocketing fatalities even while their cases increase.
My guess is that the more vulnerable people are acting like nothing opened back up and the less vulnerable like everything is safe now. So you’ve got more cases and fewer deaths.
It’s one thing to send teachers back if we’re going to do a good job of managing this. But it doesn’t seem we have any intention of doing a good job. No contract tracing as they are doing in NZ, no spraying kids down on entry and having them wear face shields as they do in China, no telling the vulnerable to stay at home and then actually paying them so they don’t end up homeless, as they’ve done in other countries. We were going to open up and “protect the vulnerable,” but then no actual protecting the vulnerable took place.. It turns out that means let the vulnerable quit their jobs and default on their mortgages.
At some universities faculty will be given the option of working remotely, at others they will be allowed to work remotely if they or their family members have any of the 12 conditions specified as high risk by the CDC. That is what public, parochial, and private schools should do, full stop. Nobody has a responsibility to die for the sake of a job, or be forced into a choice between losing their house or working in an unsafe environment. Not when (admittedly imperfect) accommodations can be made. And yes, other workers have been put in that position. They should not have been, and two wrongs do not make a right.
I actually believe in “protect the vulnerable.” If we mean it, we should be willing to pay a price for it. If we don’t at least do this, thousands of teachers and professors will die. We are going to look very, very bad from the point of view of posterity. You don’t let almost a million people die in your country when you could have prevented it and look good.
“Nobody has a responsibility to die for the sake of a job, or be forced into a choice between losing their house or working in an unsafe environment. Not when (admittedly imperfect) accommodations can be made. And yes, other workers have been put in that position. They should not have been, and two wrongs do not make a right. ”
So I do believe that “two wrongs don’t make a right”. But, keeping schools closed while requiring Safeway workers to work makes a bigger wrong. Keeping schools closed when they are essential for some groups of students makes a bigger wrong. My willingness to spend resources protecting all of the groups we consider essential workers is the same. We closed schools because we thought they might contribute to exponential spread and because we considered closed schools to be nonessential, for a limited period of time and thought we might be able to deliver the services remotely. If any of those three criteria stops being true, schools become an essential workplace that needs to be treated like other essential workplaces.
Now, that point of view is compatible with allowing teachers to stay home if they fit into one of the vulnerable categories (as we should meatpackers and Safeway employees). But it’s not compatible with giving teachers the option of staying home, if they can’t do their job at home.
And this is really not about me or my needs. Opening schools in the conditions described in our state’s guidelines will, as my kiddo said the other day, be a bit of a dystopia. He won’t be able to do many of the things he would want to go to school for. We don’t need childcare. He can learn online.
All teachers and professors with diabetes, immunocomprised conditions, on dialysis, etc. should be allowed to work remotely. The chance of dying is X12 for this group, and we know there will be massive spread.
Yes, I think that high risk teachers and professors should stay home and should continue to do their regular job remotely. So, a seven day workday for them at home. If they cannot do their previous job adequately at home, then they should be reassigned to another type of remote work. The same should go for all high risk workers, including mail carriers, supermarket workers, barbers. We will have to pay for them to stay home in the fall, with an effort to find a way for them to do their jobs in other ways.
Now, they shouldn’t have to work more days if they are doing their job remotely? should they? They need to be able to do their job from home, and some teachers might and professors might be able to.
And, teachers, who do have contracts with protections are in a better position to negotiate than at will employees. I don’t believe the coronavirus gives us a right to abrogate the agreements we made because they were convenient at the time.
I do think there are number of colleges (and private schools) that will be in serious trouble if they do not figure out a way to give value. Individual workers might have the ability to provide themselves protection (i.e contracts, tenure, . . . .) but at some institutions that might mean larger changes (i.e. eliminating departments, closing campuses, . . . .).
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