Powerless

Yesterday afternoon, tornadoes and tropical winds swept up the Eastern seaboard. They snapped trees in half and downed powerlines.

The power turned off in our house just as I was typing out a blog post here and downloading my camera. It was a really great blog post. Probably the best ever. And it’s lost to the world.

Not really.

Right now, I am working on an iPad-mini using my iPhone as a hotspot. This will work for a little while. Steve is seeing if he can get a temporary desk at one of those freelance labs downtown, because the rumor is that we won’t power until the 9th.

There’s a lot of chaos going here at the moment. I managed to drain the battery on the car overnight. I had plugged in my devices to charge them up. I brought them in the evening, but I forgot to take the keys out of the ignition. Ooops. The workers, who are fixing the flooded ground floor, helped us jump the car this morning.

In the midst of all this, I decided to blog, because I’m worried. I hate to be a Cassandra, but I don’t think things are going to well in September. Everyone here should do what they can to protect their families and themselves.

I spend a lot of time reading the tea leaves on Twitter. Last week, I also dived into a teacher’s subreddit. I am very nervous. (No links because I have to write quickly before my iphone loses power and because I don’t want to alert people that I am lurking.)

I think that there’s going to be a teachers’ strike in the fall. The teachers are pissed off. They don’t want to go into the schools. They are mad that they aren’t getting the support from parents. They don’t think that they’ll have enough protective equipment to teach safely, but still want a full salary.

The teachers are right; parents are not going to be sympathetic. In my district, 85% of parents said that they wanted in-person school in the fall. And everybody is demanding more live zoom classes, when school is not in session. Parents are bone-tired, and annoyed that they are working and teaching their kids to read at the same time.

The problem with a teachers’ strike at this point is that it won’t matter. If the plan is that kids will only go back for a couple hours per week of in-person instruction and the middle class kids are all being tutored on the side, is anybody going to even notice a teachers’ strike?What happens when the teachers strike and nobody cares?

Even if a teachers’ strike doesn’t happen, September is not looking promising. Schools are releasing super complicated plans for the fall. Group A goes in for four hours every other day, while Group B does worksheets and watches youtube videos.

Virtual education isn’t going to make any progress. Teachers don’t want to do live classes or learn how to use Zoom or spend their summers rewriting classes. The schools don’t seem to be doing any professional development this summer. Whatever teachers did this spring, they’ll do again in the fall.

Want to hear more good news? No? Too bad.

Private schools may be forced to shutdown, because some groups aren’t happy that they are staying open, while the public schools close.

Schools are going to shutdown, even those lame hybrid plans, as soon as a cluster of kids gets sick locally. And that just happened in the town where Ian goes to school. A prom party infected 20 kids in that very small community. We’re screwed.

Meanwhile, choice activists are gathering steam. Anytime that I write anything vaguely negative, they retweet me. I will still say what i have to say, but I know I’m feeding the storm.

I’m prepping. I have Ian’s math needs locked down now. I have two teachers secured for reading, but haven’t put them on the calendar yet. Both boys are learning to code in JAVA and Python through MOOCs and private online tutors right now. We’ll keep that up into the fall. Ian is on a new epilepsy medicine, and he looks healthier than he has all year, so that makes our situation feel less dire.

Of course, if the schools fail, then the problems will be bigger than my kid’s knowledge of trigonometry. The economic repercussions and societal ills are going to be very, very painful. I think we have to find some radical solutions. I think we need a national education plan.

UPDATE: ‪Public schools in Chicago will start remotely in September (and probably the entire year). NYC is the only large city that is still planning on going back part time. This is a disaster for the neediest of kids. We either need a national education plan or a plan to help individual families.

126 thoughts on “Powerless

  1. Sorry about your power. This is an unusually bad time for that.

    My best guess as to what happens in September is that schools open in many areas and deaths rise enough by about six weeks later that there isn’t much debate about shutting them down again.

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  2. Sorry to hear about the power and the floods. Gah.

    “The teachers are pissed off. They don’t want to go into the schools a workplace that has an unacceptably high probability of killing them.”

    Fixed that for you.

    “This is a disaster for the neediest of kids.”

    Yes it is. And a friend in DFW is telling me about UMC people suddenly discovering disability and disadvantaged kids about whom they have never previously troubled their pretty minds, now that it looks likely that kids are going to be staying home again.

    “We either need a national education plan or a plan to help individual families.”

    The Trump administration is never going to provide a national plan. I sure hope the Biden people have a team that was told, “Assume nothing gets done before January 21, figure out the steps that would be necessary from then.” It would be neat if they could borrow some of Elizabeth Warren’s policy folks.

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    1. I think with a reasonable national effort to develop a testing infrastructure, something could have been done by now. Obviously that didn’t happen.

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      1. From a chat with the aforementioned friend: “This is just F[ort] W[orth]. Each school district gets to choose. And the rich moms who don’t want to deal with their kids. They, of course, are claiming they want in-person schooling for the ‘disadvantaged students’ in the district. … They are literally marching on the school board to stick up for these poor students in Title I schools who have never crossed their minds unless it was to call the police on them if they were in a public park.”

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      2. Doug said, “From a chat with the aforementioned friend: “This is just F[ort] W[orth]. Each school district gets to choose. And the rich moms who don’t want to deal with their kids. They, of course, are claiming they want in-person schooling for the ‘disadvantaged students’ in the district. … They are literally marching on the school board to stick up for these poor students in Title I schools who have never crossed their minds unless it was to call the police on them if they were in a public park.””

        This is more or less what Nikole Hannah-Jones said that they ought to be advocating for.

        That’s quite the dilemma for the middle class mom:

        1. advocate for school opening and you open yourself up to criticism from Doug’s Fort Worth friend who thinks you just “don’t want to deal” with your kids

        2. keep your mouth shut and take care of your own kids at home the best you can, maybe co-oping with a friend or two…and open yourself up to criticism from NHJ et al, who think that you are guilty of segregating and opportunity hoarding.

        What is the “right” answer here? It looks to me like it’s almost impossible to avoid being found guilty of 3rd degree “being a middle class mom during a pandemic.”

        There was a case recently where a Silicon Valley guy dealing with school closures was planning to create a backyard microschool for his kid(s) and a few other kids, with a paid teacher and probably scholarships for the other kids…and people were yelling at him on twitter. It feels like there’s no shortage of people who just want to beat up on parents, no matter what they do.

        (With regard to microschooling, as far as I’m concerned, the primary appeal would be the social benefit and potential childcare help. We also don’t anticipate hiring any tutors.)

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    2. No need for empty hope! Biden did issue a plan on school reopening. It makes the decision a matter of local option, but it is clearly tilted in favor of not physically reopening schools. Whether deferring to local officials counts as a national plan probably depends on your political affiliation.

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  3. The teachers are right; parents are not going to be sympathetic. In my district, 85% of parents said that they wanted in-person school in the fall. And everybody is demanding more live zoom classes, when school is not in session. Parents are bone-tired, and annoyed that they are working and teaching their kids to read at the same time.

    Count me out. I’m totally sympathetic. I say “yay for the teachers” and, to the extent that they are protected by their unions, “yay for the unions.” The unions aren’t the problem here. *Everybody* should be protected by strong unions that prevent us from being strongarmed by our employers into doing dangerous things.

    I, personally, have been at work half time and working from home half time since this started, but I am in a situation where I can go sit in my corner and if anyone comes near me without a mask they get a look from me that makes them beg for a quick and painless death. If someone was suggesting that I sit through seven 45 minute meetings every day with a bunch of irresponsible teenagers who have no judgement, many of whom have degenerate MAGAt parents with no civic virtue, then yes, I would have something to say about that as well. And I get paid over twice as much or more as your average teacher so it isn’t even like they are getting reasonably paid to do something that I think it would be crazy to do myself.

    My own school district decided really early to shut it down for the fall. In the beginning I was annoyed that they gave up so quickly but then I had an epiphany. I live in a blueish suburb in a dark blue state but there are more MAGAts around here than you would think (and certainly far more than you would want). My next door neighbors are a three generation household, composed of a decent widower, his ne’er-do-well son and his common-law girlfriend, who failed at adulting around 2008 and moved in, and their slacker kids. The ne’er-do-wells (both generations) have spent the last couple of months throwing unmasked undistanced coronabath parties. They have frequently been large enough to violate the size restrictions on gatherings according to the executive orders by both our governor and county executive, but whatever. Cops have better things to do. And the kids managed to scrape through our high school, the last one graduating last year, so aside from chance encounters at the supermarket I don’t need to deal with any of them at all. But if their kids were still in high school, what is the chance that these slacker losers would consistently wear a mask? Or stay home when they were symptomatic? That’s right, pretty much zero. And they aren’t the only one. I asked my older son “What is the chance that x (a friend of his with MAGAt parents) wears a mask seriously if the schools reopen?” and he just laughed. So yeah, I am happy not to demand that the teachers be forced to interact with these sociopaths.

    Yes, I want schools, but we made a decision months ago that they weren’t important when we reopened the restaurants and the bars and went on vacation and went on spring break and celebrated Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, packed on the beach cheek-to-jowels, and threw frat parties and grandma-killer Mandel and her ilk whined about reopening everything because “I want to go to the zoo-oo.” Other countries, civilized countries, like Germany and Canada and New Zealand and Denmark, shut everything down seriously for a couple of months and seriously made sure people were paid so their economy didn’t collapse. You know, a serious response by serious leaders rather than this fiasco perpetrated by the orange sociopath and his degenerate supporters. And guess what the reward for adult behavior and delayed gratification is? That’s right, those countries get to send their kids to school. We could have too, but chose everything else instead and blaming the teachers for it just isn’t on. A lot of people should look in the mirror if they want to find someone to blame for the schools staying closed.

    At least our school district , having foreseen what was coming down the pike and making this call early, has put something in place that might not be so bad. They shifted to a 4×4 semester model at the high school and middle school level , so that if they can reopen in the spring then there will be four complete in-person classes. And we have 12-15 hours of synchronous on-line instruction. And, as I have degrees in math and computer science and my wife has a degree in physics and speaks French, I have no worries that we will be able to supplement. In fact, I think my kids will probably learn more math than they would in-school since I am committing to putting in the effort. My younger autistic kid is decompensating socially but online education is good for him in other ways, since a lot of his executive function and concentration issues aren’t an issue. So we are just going to make the best of a bad bargain and I am sure not going to resent the teachers for not bearing the brunt of something that is mostly the fault of everyone else.

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    1. If I didn’t have a kid with autism who was decompensating socially, I might be slightly less hysterical. He hasn’t talked with a school-mate in person, since March. Even Jonah, who is totally average/typical, is getting a little more shy.

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    2. Jay said, “Yes, I want schools, but we made a decision months ago that they weren’t important when we reopened the restaurants and the bars and went on vacation and went on spring break and celebrated Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, packed on the beach cheek-to-jowels, and threw frat parties and grandma-killer Mandel and her ilk whined about reopening everything because “I want to go to the zoo-oo.” ”

      You’re missing the part where 25 million people packed the streets for a couple of months of non-stop demonstrations.

      Why don’t the demonstrations make your naughty list?

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      1. Why don’t the demonstrations make your naughty list?

        I don’t think the demonstrations were the greatest idea and I said so, at the time.

        However, *as has been repeatedly pointed out*, the demonstrations (a) were largely outside, (b) at least made some effort for masking and other distancing, (c) are diminishing and, most importantly, (d)there is no evidence at all, none, nada, zip that the demonstrations have substantially contributed to the virus continuing to burn through the country.

        To keep jumping up and down petulantly yelling “protests, protests” is vapid anti-intellectual tripe that only serves to distract from the real matter at hand.

        That’s why. (Hey, you asked.)

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      2. There has been no evidence that BLM protests have contributed to the spread of COVID 19. Here in Denver, I have not been to anything where wearing of masks and social distancing were practiced as well as at the protests.

        I don’t know what the best decision is for schools. I think it just varies by district/ geography and even by school. My sister’s UMC Cleveland suburb could probably do a good job of opening in a safe manner. On the other side of the country my teacher friend at San Francisco’s Mission High was told by her roommates to find another place to live if she had to go back into the school this fall. I don’t really blame them: Mission High has multitudes of issues. They can’t even get her students’ IEPs to her in a timely manner.

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      3. I’m with Jay here. We really need to distinguish between outdoor and indoor gatherings as there seems to be a significant effect in indoor events. I believe the Ozark pool party also didn’t lead to spreading either despite a positive test of one of the attendees.

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      4. There’s also no evidence that people going to the beach (even packed cheek by jowl) is spreading COVID. We need to distinguish between indoor and outdoor events. But most people are too partisan to think clearly.

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      5. Except, apparently all of us here. I am wary of the cheek to cheek unmasked outdoor gathering, because there are reports of outdoor gatherings (example: socialite catered dinner gathering to watch the remote DC ballet gala) in which spread occurred, we think. But, outside, masked, distanced? we might try experimenting.

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      6. y81 said, “There’s also no evidence that people going to the beach (even packed cheek by jowl) is spreading COVID. We need to distinguish between indoor and outdoor events. But most people are too partisan to think clearly.”

        Right.

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    3. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31142-9/fulltext
      “Face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection (n=2647; aOR 0·15, 95% CI 0·07 to 0·34, RD −14·3%, −15·9 to −10·7; low certainty)” NOTE: GRADE = low certainty (our confidence in the effect estimate is limited; the true effect could be substantially different from the estimate of the effect)

      For explanation of GRADE: https://bestpractice.bmj.com/info/us/toolkit/learn-ebm/what-is-grade/)

      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1853618/
      “After 1,537 operations performed with face masks, 73 (4.7%) wound infections were recorded and, after 1,551 operations performed without face masks, 55 (3.5%) infections occurred.”

      https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data
      “We do, however, have data from laboratory studies that indicate cloth masks or face coverings offer very low filter collection efficiency for the smaller inhalable particles we believe are largely responsible for transmission, particularly from pre- or asymptomatic individuals who are not coughing or sneezing.”

      The link above goes and on about how facemasks likely useless but then continues to recommend them. Don’t know which is scarier political Candidate Bs or their medical counterparts. (Candidate B – check here https://crisiscomic.wordpress.com/covid-19-comics/politics/

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4480558/
      “It is possible, if not probable, that if surgical facemasks were to be introduced today, without the historical impetus currently associated with their use, the experimental evidence would not be sufficiently compelling to incorporate facemasks into surgical practice.”

      Please share why you think masks are relevant in this situation; I can find nothing and am now turning to study the concerning issue of cross-contamination on masks, which of course happens in every line I watch.

      https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-4109-x
      Respiratory pathogens on the outer surface of the used medical masks may result in self-contamination. The risk is higher with longer duration of mask use (> 6 h)

      For myself, thank goodness for small amusing distractions like one of the comics here where Cloth Masks act as outside sales reps trying to make a pitch to diseases https://crisiscomic.wordpress.com/covid-19-comics/disease-anonymous/

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  4. What do you mean by the fact that UMC are suddenly discovering disabled and disadvantaged kids?

    I think that what he means is that the UMC, being annoyed that the schools are suddenly not around for them to warehouse their kids in, are saying “think of the poor kids” when, for the most part, they are really agitated for their own plight.

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    1. Ah.

      Don’t you think that it’s problematic that kids, most of whom don’t have parents with PhDs, are not going to be be educated at all for another year?

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      1. Don’t you think that it’s problematic that kids, most of whom don’t have parents with PhDs, are not going to be be educated at all for another year?

        Of course I do. But that ship sailed, first when we elected that orange fraud in 2016 knowing full well that he was incapable of managing a crisis, and then when we reopened the bars. Put the blame where it belongs, rather than on the teachers.

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      2. I am not blaming the teachers. I am trying to explain how others are thinking right now.

        Sure. These “others” should also not blame the teachers. In all honesty, a good number of them should more properly blame themselves. And we should not be pressuring teachers to take the fall because they are psychologically incapable of doing so.

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  5. Regarding the power, my daughter’s office reopened for all those without power. I would have thought Steve’s office would do the same. As I understand from my friends who have cars, you can still drive into the city fairly easily these days with minimal traffic.

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    1. He might do that. He said that nobody has said anything about the office being open yet, but the region is still dark tomorrow, he’ll go in.

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  6. I am very sympathetic to teachers who don’t want to be in the classroom, and I think school reopening is unlikely to happen/happen for very long. That said, teachers are insane if they think it is to their benefit to lead the charge to keep schools closed. If they do, one plausible scenario is that a few years from now a ton of people think back to this year as one everyone tried to pull together and did their best to get through it. Except for the #$%*ing teachers, who abandoned us.

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    1. . If they do, one plausible scenario is that a few years from now a ton of people think back to this year as one everyone tried to pull together and did their best to get through it. Except for the #$%*ing teachers, who abandoned us.

      Really? I’ll still remember it as the year that all the MAGAt sociopaths refused to wear masks or close the bars. At least my memory will have the advantage of being grounded in reality.

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      1. Who said anything about reality? All I’m saying is that if a bad thing happens, it’s better not to be seen as either the cause of or happy about the bad thing. This is especially true if the bad thing was going to happen anyway.

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      2. Who said anything about reality? All I’m saying is that if a bad thing happens, it’s better not to be seen as either the cause of or happy about the bad thing.

        Where, exactly, are the teachers who are happy about this? This is just an outright fabrication. I see a lot of teachers who are angry about the idea of being crucified on the altar of MAGAt fecklessness and failure but that is something entirely different.

        And as to being the cause of this, it is a good thing then that unless we all die of Covid there will be people like me around to remind people how things really were.

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      3. Well, today, they’re all over the Facebook education groups cheering Chicago schools for making the right decision and excoriating their local schools for not doing the same. And threatening to strike if they don’t.

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      4. Like I said, not wanting to be crucified for the failings of others is not the same as being happy about the situation. I, at least, am capable of drawing such a distinction.

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      5. Jay said, “all the MAGAt sociopaths refused to wear masks or close the bars.”

        That’s weird, because Texas bars have been closed since the last week of June, which was about 6 weeks ago.

        https://www.texastribune.org/2020/06/26/texas-bars-restaurants-coronavirus-greg-abbott/

        Also, there’s been a state-wide mask order for counties with more than 20 cases since before July 4.

        https://www.texastribune.org/2020/07/02/texas-mask-order-greg-abbott-coronavirus/

        Be a bit more fact-based, please.

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      6. That’s weird, because Texas bars have been closed since the last week of June, which was about 6 weeks ago.

        You mean aside from all the bars that have refused to close in violation of the order* and people refusing to wear masks?

        Well, ok, aside from that, six weeks. Let’s do the math. Three weeks for people at the bars to pass it to a bunch of other people and then three weeks for people to start dying at a rate of 200 people a day. That seems like right around on schedule, according to how this works. If the bars were closed six weeks ago you might start to see a leveling off of new cases (from that vector, anyway), followed (hopefully) by a decline in the death rate near the end of August. Which, again, seems to be what is happening.

        Math, I can do math.

        tl;dr The bars were irresponsibly opened much too early (or never closed in the first place).

        *You haven’t even seen the effects, if any, of that yet. Wait another six weeks.

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    2. So I hope everyone understands that I have a die-hard belief in teachers. I know so many good teachers who truly make a difference in children’s lives and who have both the skills and the heart to try to reach children who I would be incapable of teaching. Stories of teachers who touched lives (I can think of many who touched mine) abound.

      I also agree that opening schools without systemic solutions to the spread of the virus is just impossible. There seem to be areas of the country that are working on the assumption that they are just going to see the virus run through their communities and that will be OK.

      But, I agree with those who are worrying about the messaging coming from teachers that seems too focused on their personal fears and safety and not on the community they serve (for example, the nurse who wrote the piece about schools being essential in The Atlantic yesterday). I, generally, agree that in most areas of the country, it is currently unsafe to open the schools. I further worry that even in areas that look promising (NY, with its 1% positivity), things could change before schools open, and change, when it comes, is rapid. But, I think when teachers talk about how they can’t teach zoom classes because they have to care for their own children, there won’t be much sympathy from taxpayers who are in the same boat (i.e having to work while caring for their own children). I fear some teachers got comfortable staying home and doing the best job they could under emergency circumstances and that the community will support a continuation of a bad solution. And, I don’t think even the most sympathetic of us will. Teachers will have a harder job if they have to teach remotely because they will have to figure out how to provide the education without the tools they had before.

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  7. “Teachers don’t want to do live classes or learn how to use Zoom or spend their summers rewriting classes. The schools don’t seem to be doing any professional development this summer. Whatever teachers did this spring, they’ll do again in the fall.” In my tiny rural town, this is absolutely untrue. I’m going to quote a friend who teaches here:

    “Remote learning, hybrid learning, face to face learning…I’m a teaching professional. I will be teaching your children under any of these scenarios. Last spring, when the sentiment in America was “teachers are saints,” I worked harder than I ever have in my career. This summer the rhetoric may have changed, but my colleagues and I are planning for every scenario. We are crafting lessons in a variety of ways that are meaningful. We are attending trainings. We are in meetings. In short, we are working as hard as we ever have.

    What exactly does the fall hold? I don’t know. But parents, under any model, you aren’t alone. No one is abandoning your kids’ learning. My colleagues and I remain as dedicated as ever.”

    This same friend told me that she realized at a school shooter training a few years back that she was expected to give her life if any of her students was in danger, and that she would do it. This was an implied part of her job description, not particularly honored in any way. It seems like this is the mindset now, too.

    I have another friend who works in special education and the districts are renting out a local church so that they have extra space for the students, teachers, and staff. I’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg on the planning for this but it sounds pretty elaborate.

    On the university side of things, I’ve been taking an online class (a really hard one!) in an area I’m not familiar with so that I can learn more about what it’s like to experience it as a student; reading constantly about best practices for teaching online; reviewing a colleague’s newly developed online course; discussing another colleague’s strategies in her hybrid courses. I can’t guarantee that everyone is rewriting their courses this summer, but I certainly am.

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    1. My son was supposed to have four 1/2 sessions with teachers in the spring. But the teachers could decide if the sessions were live classes, a q and a, or nothing. 90 percent of the time, they chose nothing. Without telling the kids. So, Ian signed on to class every single time, because he’s a rule follower. For the last ten days of school, no teacher showed their face. They didn’t even say good-bye to him.

      We were in NC for the last week of his school. He got up from the beach and logged in. NObody showed up.

      The teachers union in town have told administrators that they won’t use the in-class cameras in the classes, so kids can tune into class, when they are not physically there. There is plenty of articles, back up with real expert data and all that, that say that the unions refuse to do live virtual classes. The NYT had an article on that a couple of weeks ago.

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      1. “The teachers union in town have told administrators that they won’t use the in-class cameras in the classes, so kids can tune into class, when they are not physically there. There is plenty of articles, back up with real expert data and all that, that say that the unions refuse to do live virtual classes.”

        I do not plan to use an in-class camera so students can tune into class when not there. How would that actually work, anyway? (I am currently supposed to be teaching one class in-class and 2 remote.) (I don’t think that plan will last long, either.)

        Have the unions explained why they take this stand?

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      2. Yeah. I can’t get the link for you right now, but look at the recent NYT articles. There are some FERPA regulations, but basically they are worried about parents watching and complaining about instruction. Ian’s high school bought and installed camera in every room this summer, but the teachers don’t have to turn them on, if they don’t want to.

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      3. No question, Ian’s experience was absolutely appalling and unacceptable – both the choosing “nothing” part but even more the complete lack of communication (and not even saying goodbye). I’d be curious to know whether these were terrible teachers to begin with, uncaring and uninterested in him and his classmates? Or are these people who are good in person but incompetent/untrained in online learning? These seem like different problems with different solutions.

        My pushback here is not about the fact that some students had terrible experiences in the spring and will likely have terrible experiences in the fall if they’re online, or that parents are in an incredibly difficult position; it’s about the general “no one cares” attitude. It’s terrible that you are having the experience that no one cares, and I’m just saying that I know a lot of people in K-12 and higher ed care and they all care and are working hard to make online learning work.

        The teachers I know are not bailing on teaching; they are trying to figure out how to teach remotely since the classroom has suddenly become much more dangerous. They are working more rather than working less. What if your lineman said to you, hey, the company changed things so that my risk of electrocution just went up from 1/10000 on any given day, to 1/100, can you do this thing with no risk of electrocution until we get it fixed? And the lineman agrees to, I don’t know, spend 10 hours every day developing a whole new layman-operated wiring system and give it to you. (Or something. That part of the analogy doesn’t work so well.)

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      4. It’s not “some” students that had a terrible experience in the spring. It’s the vast majority. I know that you know one awesome teacher and that’s great, but the data shows that most kids have almost no education this spring for months.

        I think that higher ed and K-12 are two entirely different kettle of the fish. And we can’t think of them together.

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      5. I have used all my Google-fu and can find nothing on the teachers’ unions and in-classroom cameras, fwiw.

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      6. Wendy,

        Maybe this?

        Click to access CamerasintheClassroom.pdf

        Owl cameras were installed at my institution over the summer, and we have to use them if a student has decided they can’t attend in person. Basically they broadcast what is happening in the classroom to students who are not present, swiveling around to capture whoever is talking at a given moment. We will not be recorded, but we have to allow students to attend any in-person class virtually. Students can decide to do this at any time–they can decide to be virtual after starting in-person, whether because theybecome sick, worried about becoming sick, or for no reason at all.

        This is an ADA issue and I think parents should definitely push back if they have students who would like to take a class via camera that is not available except in-person. The problem is going to be that the disticts probably have the right to offer the course through other means, such as asynchronous online, and maybe that’s what they would prefer to do. A college can’t easily do that for upper level courses, at least not inexpensively, and it’s much cheaper to offer the owl camera option to students who are worried about covid than to create separate online course sections.

        (The next thing in state university systems–not so far in the future–is to cut down on courses with small enrollments by requiring students at one institution to take a course via owl camera at another institution. The installation of these cameras in all classrooms this summer will accelerate that process).

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      7. Laura wrote,

        “Yeah. I can’t get the link for you right now, but look at the recent NYT articles. There are some FERPA regulations, but basically they are worried about parents watching and complaining about instruction. Ian’s high school bought and installed camera in every room this summer, but the teachers don’t have to turn them on, if they don’t want to.”

        Who has the time or energy for that?

        The plan at our private school is to offer the remote kids the choice of either synchronous or asynchronous classes. If I understand this correctly, the synchronous remote kids will be able to Zoom into the live class while the asynchronous kids will be able to watch the taped class at their leisure. The remote kids are also supposed to do a weekly check-in with each teacher. (The upper school and lower school details are a bit jumbled in my head, so I’m not sure whether this applies to the upper school or lower school or both.)

        I think that the taped classes could be especially helpful for courses like history and math, where there’s a lot of detail and you might not catch everything the first time. In fact, it could be especially special needs friendly for highschoolers to be able to literally rewind and replay hard bits.

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      8. lisasg2 said: “Maybe this?”

        I saw that too, but it doesn’t say what Laura was saying, plus Laura mentioned a NY Times article.

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      9. I don’t know if this is the article, but this was an article in NY TImes and teacher’s unions and online instruction. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/29/us/teacher-union-school-reopening-coronavirus.html

        I thought the article was, in general, short on specifics and repeated opinions of a potentially random teacher as though they were the position of a negotiating group. It was not an article that made teachers look good (as the headline might imply: “Teachers Are Wary of Returning to Class, and Online Instruction Too”).

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  8. Let me do a better job explaining the mentality of parents…

    So, as I drive around NJ right now, all I see are guys up on cherry pickers fixing electrical poles. Imagine if one of them knocked on my door and told me, “I’m afraid of falling out of this cherry picker, can you come here and do my job for me.” Now, I don’t know anything about electrical work, but I might give it a shot, if the guy seemed like a nice guy and he only asked once.

    But if he expected me to do his job, day after day, making it impossible to do my own job, and expecting that as a woman, I had nothing else do it, I might get grumpy. If he did not make changes in his work plan to make it possible to fix poles without the fear of heights – like with some new technology – I would be even grumpier.

    Teachers were hired to teach. 3/4 of local taxes go toward schools. If teachers don’t teach and expect that other women to the job, people will be upset. Maybe this situation was caused by bad planning. Maybe it’s because pandemicis don’t mix well with a individualistic political culture. IDK. I do know that parents dont’ care, because the pain is very great.

    Because many of you work in academia, you might not understand the position of people who work in other fields. Most families have two jobs in very inflexible workplaces, and many are slowly returning to office places right now. Steve works 10 hours a day in front of a computer. He can never leave. His co-workers include single mothers with toddlers. They still work 10 hours a day. The kids are in Zoom calls or the parents have sent them to daycares, which are now open.

    As a special needs parent, I am so tired that I find it difficult to breath. And I have lots of support and a kid with relatively small needs. You know what’s going on in other houses? I once interviewed a woman with six-year old twins with severe autism living in poverty in the Bronx. I tried calling her last month to see if she was okay. The phone had changed, so I didn’t get through. But I think about her all the time.

    Sent from my iPad

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    1. “So, as I drive around NJ right now, all I see are guys up on cherry pickers fixing electrical poles. Imagine if one of them knocked on my door and told me, “I’m afraid of falling out of this cherry picker, can you come here and do my job for me.” ”

      No. Stop that.
      First, the electrical workers took a job knowing the risks involved. Teachers did not think they would have to teach 25+ kids who might or might not be infected with a contagious deadly virus (and for middle-school and high-school teachers, an average of 5 different groups of 25+ kids).
      Second, the electrical workers’ unions have negotiated a variety of safety measures for electrical workers that significantly reduce risks. Being an electrical worker is relatively dangerous, BUT it’s probably much less likely that an electrical worker will get a serious injury than that a teacher will get COVID from students.
      The union cannot guarantee safety, but they can provide the most safe possible environment. What I am assuming the teachers’ unions are saying is that the schools have not done due diligence in providing a safe environment. That is a fair complaint and one that should be listened to.
      Second, we might be able to protect teachers and students, but we need to do a few things. 1. Start planning sooner, and 2. throw money at it. You want to do something useful to get schools to open? You should be out there begging representatives to tax the fuck out of billionaires and, yes, redistribute that money so that non-teacher people can work less and have more time to either oversee teaching their kids or come up with a better plan. But no, heaven forbid that we wrest ourselves away from the delusion that a trickle-down economy is effective.

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      1. I can’t start the revolution now, because I’m too busy taking care of a kid who vomits at the dinner table every time he has a seizure.

        If schools can’t open and teachers can’t/won’t teach virtual live classes, then women will to have to do their jobs for free. Should the government pay women to educate their kids and destroy their careers? I’m a hundred percent down with that option, if that’s what we want to do.

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      2. I just came up with the idea that my university should have offered to faculty the opportunity to teach half-time for half the salary for this upcoming year to save money and also to help out parents who need to supervise remote learning for their children. I mentioned my friend who teaches full-time and will have to supervise remote learning for his 3 kids ages 7-14. (Also, they began an addition to their house over the summer, which won’t be ready, so they are looking for another place to live for the fall semester.)

        My sister’s 3rd and 5th graders in Rockland County seemed to have pretty decent remote learning. My nephew called me once to listen to him read his paper out loud and tell him whether it was persuasive (as per his assignment).

        I will take your statement that you have to be with Ian as a sign that I need to stop blabbering and get work done.

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      3. If schools can’t open and teachers can’t/won’t teach virtual live classes, then women will to have to do their jobs for free. Should the government pay women to educate their kids and destroy their careers? I’m a hundred percent down with that option, if that’s what we want to do.

        Why women? I’m not a woman and I’m a joint 50% partner in our homeschool academy. How about women demanding that the men step up? I can’t be the only person in modern times who has read Lysistrata. This has been made possible by my employer, who has recognized the situation we live in and has been extraordinarily accommodating of flexible schedules. Why not an expectation that employers allow generous schedule flexing? We’ve already shown we can do away with most of the meetings that we’ve had to go to.

        In any case, we have to come to terms with the fact that during this pandemic not everybody will be made whole. Everybody is going to have to accept less than they want or would otherwise have expected.

        What I find bizarre is this idea that if teachers aren’t willing to put their lives at risk the natural thing to do is to just fire all the teachers and blow up the public schools. I realize that for disciples of Bethany Mandel and Betsy DeVos this is a feature, not a bug. But this will end someday and I think we will find that we want these schools around after all.

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      4. I feel like I should write a FAQ to explain the real world workplace to academics.

        Look, things are Darwinian out there. In real jobs, you can be fired at any minute, for any reason, for any mistake. You work 5 days a week, every week, and get between 2-5 weeks of vacation, which cannot take consecutively. Unless if you work for an American bank, when you MUST take two weeks in a row, so they can see if you’ve been embezzling. Oh, and those 2-5 weeks of vacation time are now called Paid Time Off, which includes sick and personal days. So, if you need to go to the dentist, you lose a vacation day. They might be patient if there’s a one-day crisis, but not if there is a year-long crisis. It’s up to the worker to figure out their shit and get things done. And if the worker can’t, they are shown the door. No insurance. No recourse. Good luck finding another job if you are over 50.

        In this environment, it is very difficult for both parents to maintain equal careers, so it’s often the women who has already taken the career hit. When the crisis hits, the woman has to deal. Besides, all the emails from school only go to the wife.

        And then there are all the freelancers, like myself, and everyone on the gig economy. We’re totally hosed right now. Between editors asking for shit and teachers demanding that I do shit, I want to die.

        And then academics put the burden on workers to demand that other employers change? Um. How? On top of everything that we do, it’s OUR fault that we all don’t live in a academic utopia? (Which only functions because helots/adjuncts do most of the labor.)

        If the teachers strike in this environment, it will be Betsy DeVos’s dream come true. Because those tired/exhausted workers with sad children won’t be on their side.

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      5. This commentary has stayed with me overnight.

        I fully support teachers in finding a safe environment and here in Ontario I’m disappointed that we haven’t spent our summer investing in ways to at least have smaller class sizes for K-8 at regular time (I think our high school model is actually a very good one given the circumstances and the science). The reason we didn’t is money I’m sure. With caseloads where they are, I don’t think it’s prudent and I think we will probably be Israel and have to shut down again, but I do think it’s…defensible. In the US I do not think it’s the same.

        We also fund our schools at the provincial level so that the “I can vote on the teacher budget” is a bit less directly tied to socioeconomic area and that helps us at times, hinders at times.

        However, I want to echo a little bit that parents support teachers but there is a huge difference between the working conditions for a lot of parents and the -perceived- working conditions of teachers. I’ve had a chair thrown at me while working as an assistant in special ed classroom, and this was before active shooter drills (in the US) made it clear that teachers are physically at risk from wild and dangerous things. I’ve nearly peed my pants because I couldn’t leave a classroom of kids. I’ve taken 50 martial arts campers on field trips where I ended up with a migraine because I had to run around and forgot to eat or drink. So it’s not that I don’t viscerally get that our teachers work _super hard_ quite a lot of the time.

        But having worked in media and marketing, and now in a small business whose revenue has dropped to /20%/ of previous as my staff reopen, I agree 100% with Laura’s statements about the difference between basically unionized and non-unionized environments. I know people who lost their jobs at which they were experts for a decade and had every success for _not wearing nail polish to a client meeting_. I myself lost a promotion when I was slated to do a presentation on why the company needed a digital director, spent weeks putting it together, and then had to have a colleague present it because my son was in surgery that exact day for appendicitis.

        The difference between a classroom teacher and my career besides a really good union (which I support!) is that seniority and tenure insulate the teacher’s _career_ a lot of the time…for example, if I bitched on social media about my clients, or working conditions, even anonymously I would be fired immediately, and yet I see teachers bitching about parents AND STUDENTS all the time – mostly fondly, but still.

        What happened in the shutdown is that my kid’s elementary teacher gave up. She was barely responsive, my kid didn’t learn anything. This was a _great_ classroom teacher. But from March-June, she was terrible. I accept that, I really do, she wasn’t trained for that. But I do think much less of her, MUCH less. And I think WORSE of a system that – had no checks and balances. Her principal didn’t jump in to support her. He made cutesy Spirit Day videos but as far as I can tell, no one, NO ONE, vetted any curriculum or assignments. My high schooler’s teachers did the opposite and I praise them to the skies – their department chairs were on fire, and they are a model for the world, seriously.

        Here in the working stiff world, my martial arts staff, the very few we could keep on, embraced online teaching and worked their butts off…and we still may not make it to save their careers, here. 😦 My husband’s job, in IT, got more complex with parents at home with young kids etc. etc. and yet…that team was required to make the same goals they had anyway, with their jobs truly on the line.

        In general, those differences only sort of make me roll my eyes and wish more careers were like teaching and not the reverse. But I do think that teachers need to really focus on speaking professionally here. (And here, I would say, most of them are.) We don’t want kids and teachers sick, and we want teachers to be able to confidently do their jobs whether that’s with health precautions in schools in areas where case counts are low or with support to pivot to online or whatever it is. If I were a teacher in a high-outbreak area in Georgia I think a strike would be appropriate. But in an area with lower case counts maybe not.

        It’s complicated. But anyway I do want to say, gently, that teachers maybe should be mindful of basic PR here.

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    2. But if teachers can’t do their jobs because the work now requires additional qualifications (i.e an assumption of risk or the ability to teach effectively online), we need to find new people to do the job that needs to be done.

      I would use the comparison to medical personnel or grocery store employees or bus driver. There are lots of people we are expecting to continue working. We couldn’t do without food for even a week, so food providers had to take on coronavirus risk. We could do without schools for weeks or even months. But for a year? or years?

      Over this longer period of time, teachers are essential employees, and that might involve taking additional personal risk to do the job they get paid for. I say might, because I do not believe that we can move blindly to opening schools, which, given coronavirus conditions is a risk for the entire community and not just for teachers. And, I do not think we should ask people (grocery store workers, health care providers, teachers, police, daycare providers to do their job without as much protection from risk as we can provide).

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    3. I think many of us academics know exactly how it is in the real world. I’d like to know where all these cushy academic jobs are where people aren’t working 60+ hours a week. Don’t even get me started on the “faculty lounge”. I work 6-7 days a week every single week, even in the summer because teaching summer school compensates for my crap salary. I don’t set my schedule. I have to be on my computer 24/7 to answer student emails as they come in because you know they are the “consumer” and must have their whims catered to. I have to be in my class at the time it is assigned (and my ability to chose when I teach is severely limited) and I can’t easily get a sub or call in sick or go to the dentist and if I do I need to make it up somehow. So where are these academic utopias out there? And yeah, I’m one of the lucky ones. Top SLAC and tenured. Never mind that I live two states away from my partner with no hope of being in the same place with both of us having an academic job. And this stuff about can’t be fired. .. sure there are more hoops if you have tenure but as my partner found out at their place where they fired one-third of the tenured faculty, tenure isn’t much protection. And also, how the crap are teachers suppose to teach their kids who are at home when they are teaching your kids?

      This pitting different parts of the workforce against each other is missing the real problem. We have a social welfare system that sucks, a health care system that sucks, almost no workplace protections especially if you are in a red state, and a complete absence of political leadership. But yeah, let’s blame teacher and academics (I guess for having ideas about policy solutions?) because they are the problem.

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      1. This pitting different parts of the workforce against each other is missing the real problem.

        I agree. That said, consulting has been good. Selling out really has been working well for me.

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    4. I feel like I should write a FAQ to explain the real world workplace to academics.

      I don’t know who that was directed at, but I am not (currently) an academic. I have been one and maybe I will be again, but I am alive and well and living in the real world. I know exactly how it works.

      I also know that in the financial and technology sectors (where I am right now) we generally get paid *at least* two or three times what teachers make (before any bonuses) and so I am not inclined to ask special favors from them to carry my load.

      Covid sucks, for all of us. It sucks *especially* for us because we were so monumentally failed (mostly) by our president and his red state lackeys and the idiots who refuse to wear masks or stay out of the bars. I don’t see why we need to single out teachers especially for not being the ones to rescue us when the responsibility lies elsewhere.

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      1. I write about education policy, so that’s why I am talking about it. Also, I’m a parent, so school closures have destroyed my family. In the fall, teachers are taking about striking, so their actions are important. And if their actions weren’t important, they wouldn’t strike, because no one would care.

        Of course, personal behavior and lack of leadership got us to this point. I was one of the first to rant about closing down society and wearing masks. I have written here that they should close the bars in order to open schools. I loath our president.

        I think both of us are 100% in agreement about that, right?

        I was responding to your calls for workers to do more of the homeschooling, to do if equitably, and to pressure the man to make changes, so that combining work/home schooling was as easy as it was for your family. I was just challenging those ideas.

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      2. Laura said,

        “I was responding to your calls for workers to do more of the homeschooling, to do if equitably, and to pressure the man to make changes, so that combining work/home schooling was as easy as it was for your family. I was just challenging those ideas.”

        Not to mention the existence of single-parent (particularly single-mother) families. In a huge number of US households, there was no second adult to hand off responsibilities to this spring.

        I think we’re eventually going to find out that a lot of kids have been home alone for much of the past 5 months.

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  9. Laura, Ian’s experience was appalling.

    I’ve seen the Trustee Report for what the remote learning option looks like up here, which is, for elementary:
    ● Daily attendance will be taken
    ● 300 minutes of learning opportunities (synchronous and asynchronous)
    ● Large Group Instruction 40-50% of the day (dependent on grade level)
    ● Guided Instruction (small group), Synchronous Check & Connect (small group or individual)
    ● Asynchronous independent work available in Google Classroom/Brightspace
    ● Instruction will be delivered by more than one educator (i.e. “remote cohort homeroom”
    teacher, DECE for Kindergarten where applicable, and prep subject teachers)

    Secondary:
    Minimum of 90 minutes/course/day must be synchronous
    through BrightSpace or Google Classroom
    • Time for asynchronous independent work and may include
    small group learning
    • Daily attendance will be taken

    Full doc: https://www.tdsb.on.ca/Portals/0/docs/FINAL%20Trustee%20Presentation%20-%20August%204(1).pdf

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    1. Yes, Ian’s experience was terrible. I am angry along with you.

      I will always remember the “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” (the scene where the class is cancelled, and the student’s face drops). That particular scene, a student, ready, and waiting to learn to have the door shut in their face breaks my heart and is a personal trigger.

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    1. “Do teachers get death benefits if they die from a workplace related injury/illness?”

      That’s a good question, and you know who knows the answer? Teachers’ unions. That’s why we should trust them a bit more. The unions’ job is to make sure teachers can do their jobs safely and to be compensated fairly.

      (Any possible attitude detected in the comment is directed generally, not at you. 😀 )

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      1. (I am teaching my Working Life class again this semester, and I am actually thinking of expanding my week on unions to 2 weeks and maybe adding in a unit on Frances Perkins.) (I probably should be doing that instead of writing comments.)

        Also, though, I have some printouts of stats on workplace injuries (before I do the week on unions, I do a week on workplace injuries, to demonstrate some of why unions were necessary). In 2014, according to the handout I have here because I am working on this class now :D, 156 workers died of exposure to electricity and 793 workers died of “falls, slips and trips,” which include many more workers than electrical workers. That’s from a BLS chart on fatal injury from “event or exposure.” (I have fun with this; I ask my students what they think the most dangerous job is and also what are workers most likely to be doing when they die. The answers are 1. Logging and 2. Driving.) (They also think police/first responders have the most dangerous jobs, but I nip that in the bud right quick. About 100 cops a year die on the job, and about half of those are vehicle accidents.) (Yes, I should update, but the numbers don’t really change significantly.)

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  10. Some things that should have been done: studies within each district/school to find out exactly how many teachers were high-risk according to the CDC, how many have household members who are high-risk, and how many may have children at home if schools are partially closed. Plans established so that these sub-groups are prioritized for online teaching. Learning opportunities for online faculty over the summer. Agreements offered to online faculty, such that online teaching is tied to synchronous hours. Retirement incentive programs for those who are old enough to retire. Extra life insurance policies offered to faculty. Hazard pay offered to those willing to be in-person. Prioritization of students who most require in-person instruction: elementary schoolkids, kids with IEPs. De-prioritization of students least likely to need in-person instruction: juniors and seniors in high school, kids whose parents would prefer at-home instruction for health reasons.

    Many of these are the sorts of things that colleges have already done. At my university, faculty were asked to report what they preferred, no proof or claim of medical need required. Significantly more than half of faculty stated they would teach in person–more than could actually be accomodated due to laws regarding distancing in my state. So everyone’s wishes could be respected. Imagine that.

    The reason this didn’t happen with k-12 is (1) too many people engaged in magical thinking and assumed life could continue as usual this fall, and (2) people have a very negative and regulatory attitude towards teachers. Ask them what they prefer? Allow them to be online if they are immunosupressed? They have it too good to be treated that way. They have summers off, don’t you know?

    It is apparent we have little likelihood of doing what would be actually helpful in the real world. That is why in blue states schools will be shut down, either now or in early fall when cases arise; and in red states teachers will die. Thank goodness my purple state is currently blue.

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  11. The type of burden sharing you describe is what we need to do, but it requires a significant negotiation among teachers as well as with the administration. it requires doing something different than protecting rules that were based on an i. person education model.

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  12. Our school board is voting soon on a remote plan. It will be fine for me. But I am worried that shouting “teachers will die” to the parents who are bus drivers, nurses, clerks, and to the parents who see schools as a community will ultimately destroy public education.

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  13. So I feel that some of what people are calling “pitting different parts of the workforce against each other” is a demand to share the burden. I think I’m skewed a bit in this conversation by the number of doctors/nurses around me, but when it became the case that we were not going to drive the virus away by the fall (and that has been known since the beginning of July) we needed to talk about remote schooling, but also how to offer services in the schoolhouse (or other spots) for the children who needed it. That could include both younger children and children with special needs. Is it possible? of course, because those individuals still get services (in day care, in group homes, in medical offices). The people assisting them would need protective gear and appropriate spaces, but it could be done (but, admittedly, with risks above those of staying in your home and trying to teach via computer).

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  14. Our state governor and education officials just announced that it would be unsafe to open schools with cases of over 75/100000 people. Our county is at 92/100000. I think people have to start stating these numbers, both the union and the leaders. NY state was saying less than 3% positivity. Under both criteria it looks like we can’t open, but that parts of NJ and NY can.

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    1. bj said, “Our state governor and education officials just announced that it would be unsafe to open schools with cases of over 75/100000 people. Our county is at 92/100000. I think people have to start stating these numbers, both the union and the leaders. NY state was saying less than 3% positivity. Under both criteria it looks like we can’t open, but that parts of NJ and NY can.”

      Is that 75 total active cases per 100,000 people or is it 75 new cases per day per 100,000 people? The first one seems very low while the second one sounds high.

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    2. 75 cases over 2 weeks for 100000 people. The NY Times has this number, though you have to multiply by 2 for the 7 day total & by 14 for the 1 day average.

      And, it is a reachable number. It looks “too low” because there are large swathes of the US that aren’t meeting the standard. State wide isn’t the right number, but NY, NJ, CT, VT, are under that caseload statewide. Texas, Florida, California have numbers so high that you might be fooled to imagining that they couldn’t go so low, but they can. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for us (92, could go down to 75).

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  15. Some more notes:

    –My college freshman just bailed on doing an optional two-day all-day online meet-and-greet thing. She doesn’t want to, and I kind of don’t blame her, because they were planning on doing activities from 10 to 8 or so today and then probably the same tomorrow. On the other hand, it’s going to be really tough to make friends in person on campus with everybody masked up…
    –Our county positivity and new case counts are significantly down, which I believe is true of other sunbelt hot spots. We had three weeks hovering around 20% positive and have now been in the low-mid teens for about a week (these are the 7-day rolling averages). New case counts are definitely at least 50% off peak–might even be more like 75% off peak. But school is opening and the college kids are here, so who knows…A lot of the viral burden from the returning college students is probably already happening, and will happen even if classes go online, if they stick around in off-campus housing. Any freshmen in residence halls will wind up being sent home.
    –If/when school closes this fall, one thing I will do differently is do more social stuff for the 2nd grader. I’ll probably try to arrange an outdoor get together for her every week. (Sorry, Jay! She needs it, so I’m going to do it!) There’s no easy social equivalent for the college freshman, although I have promised that we’ll do a BBQ at our house for her classmates at Hometown U (so, 13 kids max). We’ve told the college freshman, NO INDOOR SOCIALIZING THIS FALL AND DON’T VISIT ANYBODY INDOORS. I think she’ll go along with that–I’m just afraid she won’t make any new friends this year.
    –My middle high school son had a tennis date almost every week since the pandemic began, and I think that’s one of the very best things I did this spring. He wasn’t even a tennis kid, either.

    Less personally:

    –Has anybody considered adding one grade at a time? For example, start with kindergarten, then add 1st grade a week later, then add 2nd grade a week after that, etc. In high school, I would start with the seniors and wait two weeks before adding the juniors. Having had a senior this past spring, it is especially disruptive for them to lose class time.

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    1. That’s very close to the plan a group of parents and I wrote to my Minister of Education to suggest, with the equivalent weeks added on next summer. I think that would have been smart.

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    2. I remain (probably foolishly) surprised by the differences in the decision making in different areas. Are the public schools opening with positivity rates in the teens? Other places are arguing about it with positivity <3% and with new cases < 75/100K/2 weeks.

      We don't know answers but we are really facing one of the failures of the commons — there are lots of actions I would take that I would hope might suppress the virus (staying home, completely, keeping my kids at home, figuring out how to feed them on limited grocery orders, doing puzzles, . . .) if we could all do them and if they would work. But, if we discount and don't know if they will work? Other countries are our example now, but, we need to understand what they really did. And, if we simply won't do it (even if we could)?

      I fear we are going to the path of having 150K more deaths this year (and 300K this year). There's a nihilism I see in the Republican response, of discounting the future and seeing uncertainty as insurmountable (on the pandemic, but also on other potential solutions) that is fundamentally philosophically not my approach. My approach is also not magical thinking (stay home for 6 weeks and everything will be perfect — we can't say that, because there is too much future uncertainty and we can't predict the discount to the future reward/benefit as 0).

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      1. Current dead rates put us in the ballpark of 300,000 dead this year. I think that’s pretty much a baseline case. The current number of cases is peaking in lots of southern states, but the peak in deaths is going to be lagged behind.

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      2. In much of the country, kids are going back to school. Many of the staff in nursing homes and hospitals have kids in the household. There’s still not enough testing capacity. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the October death counts will be higher than the August counts.

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      3. bj said, “Are the public schools opening with positivity rates in the teens?”

        I believe some Georgia schools are open right now–I’m not sure with what positivity. As I recall, Georgia is doing better than TX and FL.

        We have positivity in the teens in our county in TX and I’m hoping that things will continue to improve. Our public schools aren’t opening yet, but private schools in our county in TX will be mostly opening the week of Monday Aug. 17 (which is basically normal schedule). Our private school was originally planning to open two weeks earlier than that, but then the local COVID situation heated up. Public schools in our area are mostly opening up after Labor Day, which is late for our region. They usually open up about two weeks earlier.

        Here’s a possible future:

        The hot weather states have a good fall and early winter COVID-wise–there’s a time period around late September/October/early November where you don’t need either heating or cooling and it would be possible to do a lot of fresh air schooling. Meanwhile, the cold weather states stay closed through September/October, missing a window of opportunity for having schools open relatively safely. Cold weather states start opening around the beginning of Nov. (as I believe DC has been talking about) and then have to close down immediately, as cold and flu season ramps up. Northern states lose the entire fall term.

        I’m not sure I would go back and do things differently, especially given the lack of PPE at the time, but I am starting to have a nagging suspicion that the March/April school closures were unnecessary in the hot weather states. I fear that the sunbelt “wasted” good spring months and that Northern states are about to do the same with late summer/early fall.

        One of my concerns is that social mixing is happening outside of institutional settings. While it may be that teachers and staff are being protected via school closures, I don’t know that the community at large is being protected. We are not in March/April right now, and people just aren’t as willing or able to keep their kids in a bubble as they were 4-5 months ago.

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  16. My concern is that we know many of our communities have politicized this and institutions are not functioning properly. It’s one thing to recommend back to school in a well-run country. We know that’s not what we have at the moment. I think it’s arguable that we bear the moral weight of making recommendations when we can forsee that they will not be well-implemented, and will cause much suffering.

    For example, Paulding County, Georgia. School nurse quit due to terrible plans. Few masks in crowded hallways, no access to at-home instruction for families that want it (they are on waitlists, and students have been told they can wait out the waitlist at home–even up to being told they can be expelled). Student who took photographs suspended. False claims that FERPA prevents her from taking pictures. (FERPA does not confer any obligations on students, just as HIPAA does not confer obligations on patients!)

    https://www.11alive.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/paulding-at-home-learning-wait-list/85-00d037bd-eaa0-4fbe-9c06-dd21b40d335a
    https://www.wsbtv.com/news/former-paulding-county-school-nurse-resigns-over-covid-19-fears/W7N6ZZ2MGBALNHZZG6BLEEHTGE/
    https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/paulding-co-superintendent-threatens-punishment-students-who-share-school-pics-social-media/MJ2QI7ND5BFBJOW35BYNLZYLRQ/

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  17. DeWine got Covid and because of that he gets to leave Cleveland and not meet with Trump. If he didn’t infect himself, he should have.

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  18. Paulding county, would, under our state governor’s announced criteria of 75//10K/2 weeks, be high risk (260+/100K/2 weeks), and not open (which would incidentally, appear to be true for every county in Georgia, though there are a few that are at 76). But, the plans there can’t be the reason to negate in school learning completely in counties with (currently) fairly good control of the virus.

    This is the NY Times map by county: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

    scrolling around, one wants to look for areas where the daily/100K count is around 5 or less to meet my state’s criterion (I’m not arguing that it’s the perfect one, but it is a criterion, and nationwide data is available for it on trackers I can access). MA, PA, MI, CT, NH, VT, ME, NY, NJ have areas where it might be reasonable to make plans.

    And, I understand the trepidation. We often throw teachers into impossible situations and expect miracles. But negotiations that imagine the worst intent (of everyone — this includes, for me, parents presuming that teachers won’t do their jobs if they are remotely teaching and teachers who presume that the administration doesn’t care if proposed plans won’t work) will hurt us all.

    I’ve spent some time reading the comments of the results of a parent survey in MA, in a smaller district, where they listed every comment. Some parents are matter-of-factly saying what they did to make it work in the spring and why it can’t work (comment that has stuck to me — a parent who said, we have been sitting on the library steps to get internet access for my child’s class. But, we can’t do that in the winter).

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    1. bj said, “But negotiations that imagine the worst intent (of everyone — this includes, for me, parents presuming that teachers won’t do their jobs if they are remotely teaching and teachers who presume that the administration doesn’t care if proposed plans won’t work) will hurt us all.”

      I don’t think that teachers “won’t do their jobs if they are remotely teaching.” I just think that in the lower grades (say pre-k through at least 2nd or 3rd grade), it’s simply impossible to teach the average child online without massive parental support at home. For pre-K and K in particular, I don’t see the point of online instruction. My sister has a nearly 6-year-old who is supposedly starting public kindergarten this fall, and if there isn’t any in-person instruction, I will encourage her to make other arrangements for him, at least for the fall. Pre-K and K are a terrible fit for online education, given that they are more for socialization, learning school routines, hands-on exploration, and learning about the world outside the home, as opposed to learning academic content. I think you could probably deliver the academic content for Pre-K in about 30 minutes a day and probably about 60 minutes for K.

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    2. I am in one of those areas in MA where our numbers are low enough to make a go of it: ~35 cases per 100K across two weeks, test positivity rate under 2%. Our teachers’ union is still balking at coming in for a hybrid plan. They keep saying – let’s wait until it’s safer – and I keep pointing out that it will likely not get safer at all this year. Even if we get a vaccine by the most ambitious of schedules (say rolling out in January), it will take until mid-spring at best to get everyone vaccinated. Plus, any vaccine is going to be like the flu vaccine – it won’t give you full immunity; estimates are it will have a ~50-60% effective rate. If we don’t try to make some in person instruction happen now, we need to be aware that we are effectively writing off the entire year: we will be remote all year. I know that’s not true in other places where cases and positivity are higher, but it is for us. Even with all of this in mind, I don’t think we’re going to be able to make hybrid work because we won’t have enough teachers in the classrooms. And yes – I am both angry and depressed about this.

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      1. I am in one of those areas in MA where our numbers are low enough to make a go of it: ~35 cases per 100K across two weeks, test positivity rate under 2%

        This is a case where actual real leadership on the part of the federal government would have helped a lot. If the CDC had said in June “Here are a bunch of strict guidelines under which schools will be safe to open” and the DoE had said “oh, here is a bunch of money to make things safer and easier” then most of the northeast could safely reopen the schools. That is, if they kept the bars closed. (Oh, wait a second…)

        And it appears that the CDC was actually trying to do this until the orange moron and his lackeys derailed it. And Betsy DeVos appears to be most interested in illegally diverting pandemic money to private schools and generally pursuing her goals of blowing up public education in general rather than actually helping schools reopen.

        So, yeah, with an actual non-corrupt federal leadership (and a bit of money) schools in most of New York and New Jersey and New England and the mountain west could probably reopen this fall. And with more federal leadership more regions could have been in a position to reopen. But states with 300-500 new cases every 14 days (hello, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama) shouldn’t even think about reopening statewide. This is just crazy.

        Meanwhile, if the DeVos DoE was actually interested in educating kids rather than destroying public schools then they could come up with a model for online education for the rest of us and perhaps send some money to local districts to assist with technology. Our UMC county, having seen the writing on the wall, spent March-June making sure every student who needs one will have a chromebook this fall, buttressing the internet access options for students, and prepping the schools so that the teachers have access to their rooms and materials to teach remotely. This is what can be done with some money and planning. Our district did it on their own, but with an actual interest and willingness to deal with these problems at the federal level, rather than the hot mess we have there, others could have been closer to where our county is.

        And yes – I am both angry and depressed about this.

        As am I. Thanks, MAGAts.

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      2. I think public education is in big trouble. I saw this happening back in March. Did I blog about it here? I must have.

        Public education is in trouble for a lot of reasons. Jay is right that school choice advocates are rubbing their hands together, because they see an opportunity. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that a whole lotta private/Catholic schools went out of business this spring. So who knows.

        But the teachers are also going to cause problems. The gossip from local doctors is that teachers are showing up in droves to get notes that they have pre-existing conditions (even when they don’t) and can’t teach in person. If that’s the case, yes, the hybrid plans will fall apart. And if teachers refuse to do the second best option, which is full days of live, virtual education, then all bets are off. Parents can’t keep up educating kids on their own for an entire year. Talk to parents of young kids or special ed kids and you’ll see how desperate they are. The entire burden of education can’t rest on the shoulders of parents. It’s too much .

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      3. Jay is right that school choice advocates people who want to destroy public education are rubbing their hands together, because they see an opportunity.

        FTFY. Call them what they are, not what they want misrepresent themselves as.

        But the teachers are also going to cause problems. The gossip from local doctors is that teachers are showing up in droves to get notes that they have pre-existing conditions (even when they don’t) and can’t teach in person.

        Gossip is gossip. And, in any case, if this is true then “yay for the teachers.” I mean, did you see that hot mess in Georgia last week? I wouldn’t go into that place professionally and I get paid close to three times your median teacher. *My employer,* at least, respects our safety (and doesn’t want to completely shut down because we’ve become a hotspot) and doesn’t force me into crowded rooms and hallways all day with unmasked MAGAts and their kids.

        “Teachers have to suck it up” shouldn’t be a serious position. That it is perceived as such illustrates how little we regard them as professionals.

        If that’s the case, yes, the hybrid plans will fall apart.

        Hybrids are the worst. They combine the worst of in-person and online. If we are going hybrid we should do it by allowing K-3 and Sped kids to go back and keep the rest home, with triple recess/outdoor reading for the K-3 kids while small groups are taken inside. And, although bringing sped kids back would be workable without the rest of the mayhem of high-school, a lot of the socialization perks (the only reason I care about sending my own kid back rather than staying online, where he is thriving academically) would be lost because the kids you want them to socialize with would be gone.

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      4. Jay said, “If the CDC had said in June “Here are a bunch of strict guidelines under which schools will be safe to open” and the DoE had said “oh, here is a bunch of money to make things safer and easier” then most of the northeast could safely reopen the schools.”

        Haven’t the feds offered guidelines? I believe my private school has been working off CDC recommendations for quite some time.

        Here’s a June 30 article featuring Dr. Fauci:

        https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_112e79b8831e3307a99b0e3606100e81

        “”One of the things we want to emphasize and have been emphasizing is to take a look at where you are in the area of the so-called opening America again. Are you at the gateway phase one, phase two, phase three?” Fauci asked. “The CDC has guidelines about the opening of schools at various stages of those checkpoints. The basic fundamental goal would be as soon as you possibly can to get the children back to school and to use the public health as a tool to help get children back to school.””

        “Fauci said that if a school is in an area where there is a certain amount of “infection dynamics,” there are some things that can be “creatively done” including modifying the school’s schedule, alternating days, morning versus evening, allowing under certain circumstances, online virtual lessons.

        “Fauci stressed the importance of getting children back in schools due the “unintended negative consequences” that occur when they are kept out of school.”

        Here’s a fairly-detailed CDC FAQ dated July 24.

        https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools-faqs.html

        I don’t know much those recommendations have changed over the previous month, but we can’t say that the CDC is silent.

        Regarding the DOE and providing federal funding–isn’t that Congress’s job? The DOE can presumably ask for money, but Congress has the power of the purse. The DOE does not have a bottomless slush fund for this stuff.

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  19. Let me do another analogy — the mother of a good friend of my son is an Ob (who has been working throughout the pandemic, including when higher level protective gear was really only available to those treating likely COVID patients — now she has better gear). No one would dream of suggesting that she just stay home while her patients delivered their babies themselves (she could coach via zoom), would they? She was scared, and her son was scared, and I was a little bit scared. But she worked because babies have to be delivered.

    There are differences, of course, in the analogy. Babies can’t be delayed. Mothers die in childbirth, and, they don’t die of lack of education, at least not right away. The expertise required to safely deliver babies (and to do surgery) is more extreme that the supervision of children. But, there are children who need expert help and at some point, education delayed becomes education denied.

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    1. Other difference: # of people involved. We need to look at risks.
      We know:
      Large groups indoors eating or singing or talking = huge risk. <–schools, churches, bars, restaurants, concerts, movies, plays
      Large groups outdoors eating or singing or talking = large risk <–sports events, outdoor seating at bars and restaurants
      Small groups indoors eating or singing or talking = large but slightly less risk <–schools and churches with social distancing measures/limits on #s
      Small groups outdoors eating or singing or talking = small risk <–neighbors and families; what I am hoping for with going to the farm this weekend (a reminder: this is in NY, which as a state is doing well, and I am the only one coming from out of state, MA, which is also doing pretty well)
      And of course, social distancing and regular mask-wearing can help.

      Hospital situations with already-controlled environments and frequent handwashing and only a few people in the room (patient and partner/doctor or midwife/nurse or 2) could be relatively safe.

      I don't think analogies are going to work well because there is going to be a different level of risk for a lot of situations.

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    2. Of course, that’s true for every analogy, and the analogy doesn’t go too far. But, teachers using the argument that *they* are personally taking risks and that they might die isn’t going to ring true for lots of other people taking risks, especially those who didn’t even consider not doing their job.

      I do think the risk of interacting with larger numbers of people is relevant, but, does a school teacher really interact with larger numbers of people? especially if we limit the number of people they teach in some way (for example, one kindergarten class of 30)? I think one could make an argument that some doctors interact with a larger cross section of people than do some teachers. Your example of a few people in the room doesn’t take into account that a doctor delivers more than one baby (let’s say more like a few babies a day, every day they work, at least). Hospitals are certainly more controlled environments than schools, but less controlled environments than people imagine (my friend pointed out situations that made her feel unsafe, but just tried to take as much personal safety precautions as she could — you’d imagine the doctor might have the power, but she didn’t feel like she could claim it).

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  20. Imagine if one of them knocked on my door and told me, “I’m afraid of falling out of this cherry picker, can you come here and do my job for me.”

    Wow. This is a really poor analogy. Setting aside that certain risks are known factors in any kind of construction work, that we train for these risks, that we have proper PPE and equipment for these risks, that we are working in a more-or-less closed environment of workers who actively plan for the risks of each individual assignment, that attached to our work (foreground and background) there is an entire safety industry dedicated to making sure the work gets done with no injuries (every job of any size has safety personnel whose job it is to oversee the work and intervene if necessary)…..the general public tends to support keeping construction sites safe. There’s no resentful movement by any sector of the public bitching about how much providing fall protection and arc flash protection is adding to the cost of doing the work.

    On my job, we get our temperature taken before we are allowed to drive onto the jobsite. We have to answer questions relating to possible exposure, and are expected to answer truthfully. People do, because there is no penalty to answering truthfully—if they have a possible exposure, they are sent home to self-quarantine for two weeks (or less, if the test results are negative) but get paid for it. If there is a possible exposure on site (example: a worker is symptomatic and calls in), the entire crew gets self-quarantine (paid). That section of the building where that crew was working is blocked off and deep cleaned. Masks are required as a condition of employment. Social distancing is required wherever possible (we work a minimum of six feet from each other). If the task is not possible without being closer than six feet, we have to wear additional face shields. Gloves, safety glasses, and hardhats have always been required; gloves probably also help mitigate the risk. Hand sanitizers are ubiquitous throughout the jobsite. All shared tools are disinfected in the tool cribs daily and nightly (there are two shifts). And as a consequence, the few COVID cases have been passed from spouse to worker.

    Who is advocating for this level of protection for teachers? Who is prepared for the costs of such a program? After decades of open disrespect for teachers by news and entertainment media, by politicians, by right-wing “focus groups” and lobbyists—-do we as a society even think teachers are worth it?

    Real talk: my daughter is grown. And goddamn am I glad, because there is no way in fuck I would be sending her to school to swim in the COVID soup. I live in a blue state, where our governor has done an admirable job of mandating an anti-COVID protocol. But still—probably half the population of the city thinks COVID is a “hoax”, and makes no attempt to mask or social distance, and as a result the COVID cases are rapidly climbing from what was a low ebb during lockdown.

    More real talk, re: what the “real world” of the workforce looks like. Yes, there are people in my community telecommuting. But that isn’t the majority. The majority of my community, and without a doubt the majority of parents of children in the public schools, are low wage workers who are either (a) unemployed, or (b) essential workers who are going out into the COVID soup daily, since most of their workplaces aren’t enforcing the mask requirement (except for employees). Parents in my community are really pissed at the district’s plan for reopening, which will be an unwieldy mix of in-person and remote learning (live instruction) that is workable for just about no one. Now add in that latchkey child arrangements are illegal in Illinois for kids under the age of 13, and teachers (of course) are mandatory reporters, so…there’s a lot of parents that are nervous as fuck because their remote learning plans necessarily include latchkey arrangements, but no one can talk about that, publicly or privately. Nobody is talking about the mass exodus of low-wage support staff or bus drivers. Nobody is talking about the significant number of grandparents raising grandchildren and the risks they face. I know a lot of parents who are frustrated at the seeming inability of district planners to take the average home situation into account. The planners are probably frustrated because the resources aren’t there to plan for something that would actually be workable for families. I know some families who have already declared they would “homeschool”, which is a stand-in for saying they’ll plop the kids down in front of a computer and hope they’ll do something educational on it, but at least it gets them off the hook for increasing the COVID exposure. They’ve resigned themselves on this year being a wash for education, and hey—people manage after flunking a year, and this is kinda sorta the same thing, except everybody’s flunking at the same time, so how bad can it be? (LOL*sob*) I wouldn’t worry about women having to teach for free, because they’re not going to. They’re going to work, instead. And telling the kids to shut their mouths, don’t answer the door, don’t do shit because if anyone finds out they’re home alone they’re going to foster care. “You wanna be put in the foster care system? No? Then pipe down and don’t let anyone know you’re here. Otherwise, you’re gonna be taken away, I’m gonna be arrested, and it’ll be a long time before you’ll get to see me again.”

    Frankly, I think it’s a moot point. If the restaurant/bar reopenings in my community are any indication, COVID is going to close the schools down within two weeks anyway.

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    1. “The planners are probably frustrated because the resources aren’t there to plan for something that would actually be workable for families.”

      The resources are there, sitting in the bank accounts of companies and CEOs and investors who have been looting from regular people for years. The solution is right there, but Americans, particularly the Fox News-watching Americans, have been conditioned for years to cry “Socialism!” every time we suggest raising taxes and getting something the fuck done. I am beyond aggravated. (But then I’ve also been on Facebook watching while my aunt, whose family was on welfare at times and whose husband, sons, and in-laws are all teachers, police, military, and firefighters and have thus sucked from the government teat – image courtesy of Ron Swanson – for decades, has been posting far-right propaganda about impending socialism.)

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      1. But I’m talking about right now. Not in some pipe-dream future where people have a sense of civics and Ayn Rand has been assigned to the dustbin of history. In my community, the resources really aren’t there. The district is drawing from a tax base of a median household income of a little over 50 grand. My community would require a substantial input from elsewhere in order to have those resources. We are the deadbeats and “takers” who are working 60 or more hours a week. Tl;dr, roll out the guillotines.

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      2. If they are going to tear gas and club peaceful protestors on one side and stand around while the other side marches with guns, something is going to blow up and relatively soon. I don’t know what will happen, but I’m pretty sure “status quo as of January 2020” is no longer on the table.

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      3. The “borrow now, tax later” scenario doesn’t take into account geography. There is no “later” for vast areas of our country, and hasn’t been for the past few decades. The money has to come from elsewhere—the community itself will never provide it (see also: blood out of a stone). Schools are funded locally, which leaves every locale that is economically strapped screwed. Wealthy people don’t want to pay for schooling for poorer people. It’s not just that they don’t want their children going to school with poor and working class children, they don’t want any of their tax dollars going to fund schools for those children, either. We live in a de-facto banana republic. We just don’t yet realize it because the lights are still on. They won’t always be. First-world infrastructure requires a large, stable, middle class (actual middle class, not internet middle class, where “middle class” means “rich”).

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      4. Some states redistribute. Ohio did to a fairly significant degree when I was there, I think. Pennsylvania does not, so you have a district where everyone fails or leaves because there’s no funding (Duquesne had a per capita income of $12k and it’s own schools before the state finally forced the high school to close at least).

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      5. That’s why the borrowing has to be done by the federal government, which appears, now, to be able to borrow now pay later. The Economist had cover on Jul 25th was “Free money: When government spending knows no limits” and, though, they don’t believe in the ideology (certainly aren’t MMT’ers) the article was a nice summary of the history of the macroeconomics and the “new epoch” we are facing now. But, there seemed to be some argument that one could borrow with impunity (i.e. without the inflationary worries that we faced in the 70’s) right now in the face of a crisis.

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      6. “I’m pretty sure “status quo as of January 2020” is no longer on the table.”

        For obvious reasons.

        😉

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      7. Wendy said, “The resources are there, sitting in the bank accounts of companies and CEOs and investors who have been looting from regular people for years.”

        Money is no good if it isn’t turned into orders for PPE. And you can’t get PPE in massive quantities unless you order way in advance. Heck, if my grocery store is any indication, it’s going to be tough to keep school cleaning supplies stocked up. (I think a lot of surface cleaning is COVID theater, but some cleaning needs to happen if schools are open.)

        If you gave me a billion dollars on Sept. 1 to equip all schools in NYC for opening Sept. 8, I couldn’t do it, because the planning and the lead time is just as important as the money.

        Oh, yeah, and there’s the training. Even given appropriate PPE and cleaning supplies, it’s going to require intensive training so that teachers know exactly how to work safely. Procedures are just as important as PPE.

        On the bright side, the benefit of a staggered school start with different schools opening on different schedules is that there’s going to be a lot of information available soon on what doesn’t work well. Imagine how many school administrators looked at the Georgia story and realized–oh crud, we don’t have a hallway plan!

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      8. A competent administration would have had PPE (and testing and guidance) widely available by now. Really, by April or May. Even an incompetent but not evil one should have hit on something by July. Instead, Trump used what he had as carrot to reward asslicker governors and decided to do as little as possible for blue states as part of a deliberate election strategy.

        This isn’t a failing of schools. This is blaming the weaker for the failures of the administration.

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  21. Oh…I forgot to mention when it comes to on-the-job safety: if I get killed on the job, my daughter has the number of a really good law firm in Chicago that gets damn good settlements for workers that are killed on the job. She’d likely end up with enough that if she invested it wisely, she’d be set for a modest income for life.

    Raise your hand if you’re in favor of big payouts for every teacher we lose to COVID.

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    1. lubiddu said,

      “Raise your hand if you’re in favor of big payouts for every teacher we lose to COVID.”

      Of course.

      But I think they’d probably not die, no matter how good the settlement was.

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  22. “COVID is going to close the schools down within two weeks anyway.” Yes, this is another good and valid argument. Opening the schools unsafely won’t really open them. Opening the schools unsafely is unsafe for the teachers, but also for the children, parents, and community. But no, that does not mean there is no safe way to open schools anywhere, though there is probably no safe way to open schools in some places.

    Like

  23. I wasn’t able to read the article, but the NYT has a piece on the question, why is daycare open but schools aren’t? I came across it on NHJ’s twitter.

    To be fair, as with elementary school, cohorting is easier in a daycare center than in a high school.

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    1. The title is misleading because the article doesn’t answer the question. Instead it’s an essay on child “care” v education and whether they are inextricably intertwined and a statement of the general disrespect and lack of support for “care”. The unocked article link below.

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  24. In WA, where the data on cases by occupation was released as of 7/23, 31% of cases are in health care/social assistance (which are 13% of the labor force) so health care workers are taking real risks and paying a price. Educational services are 2% of the cases (and 9% of the labor force). Should teachers be required to take unnecessary risk? no. Should they be required to take useless risk (i.e. forced to return to schools that will not be able to provide education that is their purpose because of the virus)? of course not. Should education workers expect that if they are providing an essential service, some risk might be necessary? I think so.

    Otherwise, I do believe that the community will start to believe that our public schools are not an essential service.

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  25. and the 0 cases for 14 days hashtag that I have been seeing in some teachers posts is probably not achievable. I really do hope that we have a useable vaccine in “early” 2021, but i think waiting for a vaccine will mean a list year of school.

    and, no, i do not consider remote instruction to be school.

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    1. bj said, “and the 0 cases for 14 days hashtag that I have been seeing in some teachers posts is probably not achievable. I really do hope that we have a useable vaccine in “early” 2021, but i think waiting for a vaccine will mean a list year of school.”

      I wonder how many people are going to get the vaccine, if they aren’t strong-armed into it by schools and employers.

      One of the MDs that I follow on twitter says that we’re probably always going to have COVID now.

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      1. I don’t think we are being bad :-). However, like Alexandra Petri, there’s a door in my head behind which I am screaming all the time.

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      1. It turns out Belgium deliberately left the elderly to die even when there was no shortage. Trump’s policy is likely to be moderately less deadly than deliberate euthanasia. Go team!

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  26. Some of the people I read suggest that school ventilation and indoor air quality aren’t being addressed enough.

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  27. Not to be a thread hog, but it occurs to me that “pull your kid out to homeschool” is actually an all purpose solution this fall:

    1. Think that your area is safe, remote schooling is a joke, and the schools ought to open? Pull your kid out of remote schooling to homeschool and make sure and explain to the school why you are doing so.

    2. Think your area is unsafe, that adequate remote schooling should be offered, and that the schools shouldn’t open? Pull your kids out to homeschool if your school isn’t offering an adequate remote option and make sure and explain to the school why you are doing so.

    Under normal circumstances, one family’s choice wouldn’t make a difference, but this year, individual parents have a lot more leverage than they’ve probably ever had, because it’s never been easier to put together a highly-motivated pressure group.

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  28. Regarding PPE, we’re not living in March-April right now. A lot of basic stuff (masks and gloves) is widely, cheaply available right now. I have been astonished how cheap KN95s are compared to this spring. The grocery store has whole bins of cheap surgical masks and gloves. Hand sanitizer is pretty expensive compared to “normal”, but there’s virtually a wall of it. At least judging from what I see at the store, cleaning products may be a harder-get. Tents are also probably going to be important and potentially hard to get–Hometown U. and our kids’ private school are both renting (?) large numbers of them. Portable dry erase boards may potentially be another shortage item.

    My kids’ private school has just added a) a clipboard and b) dry erase pens to the school supply list for the fall. I don’t know for sure yet, but I’m guessing that the dry erase pens are so that kids have their own pens and don’t have to touch common ones when working on a whiteboard (outdoors?), and the clipboard is to enable work outdoors or in other non-traditional spaces.

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