Here Comes Another Round of School Closures. Nobody Cares.

COVID rates are going up. Things are going to be horrific in another couple of weeks, because we’re still keeping the gyms open, people aren’t wearing masks, and not enough people are going to cancel Thanksgiving. It’s very predictable. (Folks, be safe out there.)

What really bugs me — I mean beyond all those dead old people — is that schools will close again. The damage — and I mean massive damage — to younger kids, disabled kids, and low-income kids will alter lives. The fact that we haven’t prioritized schools, as Europeans have done, is really damning. Bad choices.

People care more about their biceps than little children. People are assholes.

And as much as I like Biden, I am concerned about some of his education choices. For example, DeVos gave the states the green light to forgo state standardized tests this spring. Not one of the states administered tests of kids this spring. Biden might do it again this spring, because the teachers unions are pushing him in that direction.

Without two years of tests, we will have no idea how far kids fell behind these two years. Without this knowledge, there will be no remedy. Schools are just going to pretend that none of this happened. Fuck it. We’ve paid for 12 eggs and were only given 4. Kids are owed education time.

I’m furious. My kid will be okay, because I am forking over $516 per month for various education services. And I’m about add another few hundred per month for social skills classes and exercise classes at the Y — he no longer has enough contact with other kids and doesn’t have gym class.

I think as much as 10 percent of all the school children in New York City are homeless. Schools are their bedrock. And we’re taking that away from them.

19 thoughts on “Here Comes Another Round of School Closures. Nobody Cares.

  1. I don’t have the mental energy to worry about something Biden might do. I’m not going to be ready for that until he’s inaugurated.


  2. Every word Laura says (in this post) is right and true, but teachers’ unions have a lot more power than low-income parents, and upper-income parents typically find it easier to pay the extra money and avoid the public schools, so the result is predictable.


    1. It sounds terrible to say, but that’s what we did. We pay for private school, which has been open five days a week when most public schools here are closed or only two days per week.


  3. Kiddo just sent me the prediction that our governor will announce a new stay at home order at 5:30.

    Things look very bad. Back of the envelope calculations translate 145,000 cases per day to 2500 deaths per day in 3 weeks. And spread looks exponential. I hope that the case fatality rates are getting better and that the envelope is wrong.

    Our schools won’t open. I hope that the IEP kids that need services are getting served. But I would not want my kid in in person school right now.

    I think what I am comfortable advocating for now is compensatory education for anyone who wants it — summer, extended years, . . . .

    I also think there should be testing.


    1. bj said, ” I hope that the case fatality rates are getting better and that the envelope is wrong.”

      Better treatment may not be possible if/when hospitals are overwhelmed.

      “And spread looks exponential.”

      I had the following conversation with my husband today.

      Me [lit degree person]: Our county COVID growth is exponential!

      Husband [ex-math guy]: No, it’s quadratic.

      Me: [looking up “quadratic growth”]

      “Our schools won’t open. I hope that the IEP kids that need services are getting served. But I would not want my kid in in person school right now.”

      I have my kids in in-person private right now, with roughly 70 cases per 100,000 per day right now in the county, but it’s a small school with a lot of healthcare workers in the community. There have been no school-wide closures this fall. I’d kind of like a post-Thanksgiving closure, though…

      I watch a couple of the local public districts. The city district and the suburban district are on completely different tracks. The city district has had a number of short-term closures, especially affecting middle schools and high schools. The suburban district has (to my knowledge) had no closures at all, despite starting two weeks earlier. The city district staffing seems to be a lot more vulnerable to shocks. The suburban district is doing rapid testing at their high school and they suddenly have 35 active cases at the high school. I think the county’s large public high schools probably ought to shut down. I’m on the fence about the middle schools, but the elementary schools seem to be doing quite well.

      Hometown U. has gone from a long stretch of 1.3%-1.5% positivity to well over 5%. Weirdly, my husband was talking to some grad students, and they had no idea that there was a case surge right now. I wonder how many people just don’t know yet–it has only been about a week and a half.

      Eyeballing it, I think things went bad right after Halloween. They’re testing like crazy locally. At the same time, positivity is ticking up nastily. We had a (in retrospect) rather nice plateau of 6-8% positivity for nearly 2 months, but it’s back to the teens again.

      I kind of missed the boat for getting a salon haircut…again. I had been planning on waiting for 5%.


  4. Have you seen this: My county comes in at 91%, at this point, we are just assuming everyone we meet might have it. For us, it’s been bad since the college kids came back to town. In Madison, everyone is wearing masks, everywhere. But not so much in the suburbs.

    I made the mistake of suggesting that we prioritize opening the schools over the state football tournaments on Twitter and the conservative-football-Trump-supporting crowd came after me. LIke, sending hundreds of horrid awful threatening sexist messages. I deleted everything and blocked a ton of people. Lesson learned – don’t say anything negative about football on Twitter. Geez.

    But is this a safe space to say that we probably shouldn’t be having high school and college football games and tournaments (where people to restaurants and bars to celebrate/watch) when actual school is virtual and our hospitals are beyond capacity???? Sigh. I get that we can do cross country and tennis and golf…..but isn’t the point of football to jump in a big pile and touch each other?

    The lack of standardized testing doesn’t bother me, as much. My experience, in our schools, is that the tests mostly track directly to pre-existing socio-economic levels. So, rethinking how we use and administer those tests is not necessarily bad (for us). Also, I can’t imagine how they would administer the tests to us when we haven’t stepped foot in a school building since March??? My first priority would be getting kids back in school. Figuring out the standardized testing would be secondary.


    1. Well, I’m definitely a safe space for complaining about football. My kid wrestled last year and was looking forward to it this year, but when he hears of how people are trying to do it in the midwest, his head explodes with the ridiculousness.

      I think we need the tests for comparisons and to give us a reality check. For example, they could reasonably be used as evidence for extending school years/extending years in school. I don’t want to use them to judge either teachers or students, but to use them to give us feedback on what we have potentially accomplished. For example, even though they track to SES, knowing that we served lower SES students poorly could be used to help them, I hope.


  5. In my neck of the woods:
    RI is contemplating a lockdown again. Not sure about MA. At work we have one more week of in-person classes for select courses, then we are all remote after next week.
    6 cases at Cornell yesterday. 14 for the week. There were 30 cases in Tompkins County yesterday.
    16 cases at E’s college over past 2 weeks, but almost 3000 in his county over the same period.
    We just don’t know what to do with S. She wants to come home for Thanksgiving then go back. We think that’s a bad idea.
    E is weirdly isolated on campus with all-remote classes, so we’re not as worried about him coming home.


    1. Wendy said, “We just don’t know what to do with S. She wants to come home for Thanksgiving then go back. We think that’s a bad idea.”



    2. Ours is coming home for Thanksgiving and staying. She is pretty isolated and her school is doing 2/weekly testing. I am thinking about whether we need to do some form of isolation, and might suggest it, though not for two weeks. Maybe have her wear her mask with us (which she would do) and eat separately?


      1. bj said, “Ours is coming home for Thanksgiving and staying. She is pretty isolated and her school is doing 2/weekly testing. I am thinking about whether we need to do some form of isolation, and might suggest it, though not for two weeks. Maybe have her wear her mask with us (which she would do) and eat separately?”

        Can you test her after she comes back?

        Husband just told me that Hometown U. is organizing rapid testing for students before they go back for Thanksgiving (which is the end of the in-person semester). Students are being strongly encouraged to do so, and Hometown U. is covering the co-pay.


      2. She will be tested before she leaves, and we can arrange a test for her return, but if she were exposed during travel, we’d have to wait a few days for a useful test.


  6. “People care more about their biceps than little children.”

    I think people are selfish, but I also think that many Americans are very committed to making their own choices and that pandemics involving airborne viruses that can spread asymptomatically and have a fatality rate in the 1% range (rather than the 10-20% range) are very hard for individuals to make decisions about.

    That GAtech tool that does the simple calculation of estimating the likelihood that someone you are with will be COVID+: is an example. It’s simple math, but I think many people are surprised to see how quickly risk goes up with numbers + case rates. I know the math but to truly understand, I need it penciled out for me.


  7. I think everybody should be very concerned about Thanksgiving–and not even your personal Thanksgiving, but the likely effect of other people’s Thanksgiving travel and get-togethers on local COVID.

    Husband and I have just decided that we will pull our 10th grader out of in-person school for the week after Thanksgiving. The school term has three weeks after Thanksgiving, with two being normal and then an exam week with several half-days. I’m kind of leaning toward pulling the 10th grader out for the two weeks after Thanksgiving, but a) he would hate it and b) school may shut down anyway, so I kind of want to let school be the bad guy on this. Here’s are some excerpts from an email I just sent to school (edited for privacy and brevity):

    “Husband and I have decided that 10th grader needs to do remote learning for at least the week after Thanksgiving (Nov. 30-Dec. 4).

    “While School has had an excellent run this fall, things are worsening COVID-wise in the county and we feel that it is likely that the week after Thanksgiving will be very, very bad.

    “Hometown U. has gone from 1.3-1.5% positivity to [well over 5%] positivity. The city school district has lately had quite a number of short-term school closures, and the big suburban high school has 38 active cases right now. The middle schools and high schools seem to be especially prone to outbreaks and closures. The county is routinely experiencing over [40 new cases per 100,000] and the number of active cases in the county has recently doubled. There are now more new cases per day in the county than we saw during the June/July surge this summer, and we probably have not peaked yet.

    “I’m sure that you have excellent advice from the doctors and public health workers in our school community, but I feel responsible to add my voice in saying that there is no shame in cutting short the fall term, especially for the upper school, which is especially vulnerable.

    “One more thing: is there any possibility of School obtaining and using rapid COVID tests for spring term, especially for the upper school? I believe the suburban high school has been using them, or at least they were planning to.”

    The county has actually had some days that hit more like 80 new cases per 100,000 per day, but this is started so recently that I don’t know if it’s just a blip or the new normal, so I didn’t mention that.

    I feel pretty comfortable keeping our 2nd grader in in-person school, but it would also not surprise me if her school closed down a bit early this fall.

    Our 10th grader and 2nd grader are finishing up their 13th week of in-person school today. Again, it’s been a good run (and a lot better than I was expecting in August), but I’m happy with school shutting it down any time now.


  8. Cases are skyrocketing here in Illinois/Wisconsin. While fatality rates are not too scary now, the hospitals (especially in rural areas) are about to be overwhelmed, and that will lead to needless deaths. Plus, we are starting to see things like this: 1/3 of the Springfield Fire Department have just tested positive. What if more essential public service workers are taken out of circulation? what then? the problem is not the fatality rate (although only those who have not lost anyone to COVID can say that easily), it’s the massive disruption due to the high level of communicability and the speed with which it spreads. Plus the fact that severe cases so often require hospitalization.

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that no-one cares about the loss of in-person educational time. People care a lot, but schools HAVE had big outbreaks, especially high schools. In our town, interestingly, the UMC white parents are pushing for in-person, but there is pushback from a group of African-American parents who say, “slow down! we are not ready to send our kids back.” They have more family members and friends who have died or gotten very sick.


  9. New York City schools are telling parents what their shutdown plan is, with the caveat that schools are still open. General consensus on the parent FB and Whatsapp groups is that they will not open Monday.


  10. I think there was a major miscalculation by a lot of schools in areas with decent stats.

    They stayed remote through months with decent stats and then opened up just before things (predictably) started falling apart.

    This is especially inexcusable for elementary schools, which are not that risky to run.


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