Schools, Work, Politics: Things are Heating Up

I just ate nine Pringles and a banana for breakfast. Breakfast of champions. Lots going on here. I have my running gear on, but it might not happen, because it’s going to be a drama filled day. I’m going to be glued to the computer all day.

The pressure pot is about to explode. For 14 months, the country has been in a semi-coma. To prevent an India-type situation, schools, businesses, and government services closed down to lessen the spread of COVID until a vaccine could be developed.

The good news is that we have a good vaccine. There are plenty of vaccines for everyone in this country. In a month, everybody who wants a shot will have gotten them. The bad new is that not enough people want a vaccine.

Only 37% of NJ residents are fully vaccinated, yet the demand for vaccines has dropped off. They’re closing vaccine centers, because no one is showing up, including in places that served hard hit cities like Newark. This is not Trump county. There’s no way we’re going to get to herd immunity, so we’ll be dealing with COVID for a long time.

Parents of kids have hit the ceiling what they can handle. Schools around here are still not open full time. In places like New York City, they’re barely open. A couple of cities in New Jersey never opened. Parents have organized on twitter and bombard me with forwarded articles and information. I can’t read everything.

I walked outside yesterday to get a breath of fresh air after sitting in a three-day webinar for education journalists. My neighbor, a former accountant with three young children is trying to keep them entertained in the afternoon. The kids see me “HI MISS LAURA!” and come running over to check out Steve’s garden.

I told her that I thought that our town is trying to manage expectations about a full reopening in September and she rolled her eyes. She said that her husband is ready to lose it now. If they don’t open, she doesn’t know what will happen.

This education webinar is the national conference for education journalists. It’s a big deal. It usually happens in a hotel with finger foods and business attire, but for the past couple of years, I’ve watched it in my home office. When I figured out there were no cameras on attendees, I didn’t even put my contacts in.

I’ve been watching panels of experts — think tanks, like Brookings, academic researchers, political activists, and school leaders — talk about the hot topics of the moment to increase the knowledge of writers and reporters. It’s professional development. Michael Cardona, the Secretary of Education, spoke at the opening plenary session on Monday. I’m going to watch Randi Weingarten, the president of the UFT, at 11:00. I have already written out my question.

Big themes? Learning loss. An academic researcher on a panel on disabled kids spoke about how school closures have been particularly tough on these kids. Talking about learning loss for this group, she said “the projections are grim.” Over the past two days there was lots of discussion about activist parents and plans going forward. Everybody wants summer school.

But schools don’t want to summer school. My kid was supposed to start a new school-run program for older kids, who aren’t ready for school or work. The program was sold to me as one that would be a full day. They have now scaled back on both the scope of the program and the hours of the day. It will end at 12:30.

Ian will have nothing to do between 12:30-10:00 in July. In August, he will have nothing to do all day. He’s too old for camp, can’t work, doesn’t have friends, and can’t even take classes at the community college. (In order to be qualified for this special school program, he can’t officially get a high school diploma. The community college only allows high school students to take three classes.)

As I surfed through garbage on Twitter on my iPhone this morning, Steve turned to me and said grimly, “Goldman is going back.”

The New York Times reports that Goldman Sachs is calling its workers back to the office by June. JP Morgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, said they’re going to back, too.

“We want people back at work, and my view is that sometime in September, October it will look just like it did before,” Mr. Dimon said. “And yes, the commute, you know, yes, people don’t like commuting, but so what.”

I knew this was going to happen. All this talk about remote work was the future was just bullshit. They never downsized the offices in New York City. If remote work was really going to be permanent, they would have reduced the office footprint. They never did. The executives want people back in a desk where they can watch them all day.

Now, what does this mean for us? Steve will go back soon. Maybe a few months later in the year, because he works for a Canadian bank, but he’ll go back. And then every other business will follow soon. It’s going to be a domino effect. No company will want to appear to be less professional than their competition.

But workers are still watching their kids! Especially in our area. So, what’s going to happen if offices force workers back, but schools still refuse to open?! I don’t know, but Randi Weingarten will be in a panel at 11:00, so I’m going ask her.

The tide is turning on schools and states. When the New York Times writes pieces about the lost generation of kids, who were totally hosed by school shutdowns, you have lost the lefties. And people have lost faith in the CDC. In hindsight, a lot of their regulations like the 6 feet things were overkill. Liberals are mocking other liberals for COVID overkill.

I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but I’m fascinated by the fight.

50 thoughts on “Schools, Work, Politics: Things are Heating Up

  1. I live in NYC and my kids go to public schools. Most elementary schools are now open 5 days a week. They managed this because even after the last opt-in in April only ~1/3 of kids elected for in person. I think people who have been pushing for more in-person school, including myself, have done a poor job of understanding that there are a significant number of parents who are still not comfortable with sending their children.


  2. Ok, look, despite what I will go on to write, I believe schools have to be open. The teachers have had the chance to be vaccinated. It would make sense to preserve a virtual option for those teachers, families and students who cannot be vaccinated, or just can’t risk an infection. There are people who can’t be vaccinated. They’re allergic to ingredients, or they have other medical conditions.

    Nevertheless, my best guess is that this disease will not go away. It mutates too d*mn fast. Vaccination helps protect people, but it is not perfect. There are already variants that are resistant to the vaccines. Every single infected person is a petri dish for new variants.

    In addition, death is only one consequence of Covid infection. Studies show Covid survivors have a higher risk of death after “recovery.” Studies are also showing new medical conditions popping up in survivors.

    When Ziyad Al-Aly’s research team told him how often diabetes appeared to strike Covid-19 survivors, he thought the data must be wrong, so he asked his five colleagues to crunch the numbers again.

    Weeks later, they returned the same findings after sifting through millions of patient records. By then Al-Aly had also gone digging into the scientific literature and was starting to come to terms with an alarming reality: Covid-19 isn’t just deadlier for people with diabetes, it’s also triggering the metabolic disease in many who didn’t previously have it.

    The Fortune article links to other studies. This is the study published in “Nature”:

    Diabetes is not the only condition to show up in Covid survivors. The study cites “chronic health loss in Covid survivors.” I recommend reading it.


    1. That’s what makes me nervous too. Though our son has been in school physically for nearly the whole of this year.

      At some point, I think we need to realize that health isn’t a personal thing and we are literally and significantly weakening nation by current policies.


  3. Laura wrote, “The good news is that we have a good vaccine. There are plenty of vaccines for everyone in this country. In a month, everybody who wants a shot will have gotten them. The bad new is that not enough people want a vaccine.”

    We have barely started to try to motivate the skeptical.

    As I’ve mentioned before, there are still no vaccine PSAs running on our local radio. The closest thing that I’ve heard were some promotions for the recent Vax Live concert, a charity fundraiser attended by thousands of vaccinated frontline workers (and Prince Harry).

    Another thing–while private life has been changing a lot for vaccinated people, public life is more or less the same as it was. And that’s true even where there is no state mask mandate. We just heard that our diocese is lifting masking requirements and other restrictions as of Pentecost Sunday (May 23), but there continue to be mask rules at HEB, Hometown U., and for kids 4th grade and up at our school. (This is in an environment of about 11-12 cases per 100k and 5% positivity, with Texas being about 39% vaccinated with at least a 1st dose.) Daily life in public is virtually identical to what it was before the governor dropped state restrictions.

    Obviously, we’re not quite there, but I feel that it would be helpful to start talking to major local businesses, colleges and school districts about setting some goals for dropping masking requirements for customers and students. People need to see that their lives will visibly improve and normalize if they get vaccinated. There is polling that suggests that a large minority of people would be motivated to get vaccinated if it meant that they could stop masking:

    Leana Wen writes, “Important finding from UCLA researchers: cash incentives can work to increase vaccination uptake. But most important for reluctant Republicans? Being told they can remove their masks post-vaccination. 18% increase if told that’s the incentive.”

    It’s the biggest incentive for Republicans, but it is a substantial motivator for whites (15%), blacks (14%), all (13%), independents (13%) and Hispanics (11%). Only Democrats are relatively indifferent (6%).

    I think that there need to be a lot of small perks available to the vaccinated–it should rain freebies this year.


  4. I’m taking my 18-year-old for her second COVID shot this afternoon.

    Part of the package is that I’m taking her to Taco Bell for lunch.

    Little things mean a lot for young people.


    1. I’m getting my second shot today, too! Planned treat is soup dumplings. But, I think I might need a bigger treat. I’m already playing with hundreds (nearly) of flowers that I got last week, so what? Pringles sound good. I could be more extravagant. Maybe a piece of art? Unfortunately, I am not easy to treat :-).


      1. bj said,

        “I’m getting my second shot today, too! Planned treat is soup dumplings. But, I think I might need a bigger treat. I’m already playing with hundreds (nearly) of flowers that I got last week, so what? Pringles sound good. I could be more extravagant. Maybe a piece of art? Unfortunately, I am not easy to treat :-).”

        Go for it!

        This is a big week for our family, so after the pharmacy, I took the college student to the grocery store to pick out a cake to celebrate the combination of: her brother’s confirmation yesterday, her second shot today, her last day of exams today and her brother’s AP physics exam today. We decided on a tres leches cake.

        Tres leches is a an extremely moist Mexican-style cake made with sponge cake and sweetened condensed milk. We got a version with fresh raspberries and blueberries on top.

        (I actually got well into writing this before realizing that tres leches fits really well with Cinco de Mayo.)


      2. Tres leches has condensed milk, evaporated milk, and either whole milk or cream. Three milk.


  5. Unrealistic positivity is bad. Unrealistic negativity is also bad, and as AmyP points out, discouraging to those who might otherwise participate in mitigation efforts. All of us–and especially scientists–need to think about our messaging. There were those who were too negative from the beginning, and said there would be no vaccines, or they would take years to develop. (At least one prominent figure–a writer about pandemics, not a scientist–seems to enjoy her role as Cassandra). One reason for this was normalcy bias. In the past it’s taken years to develop vaccines, so it will take years this time. The problem with that view is that past diseases were studied only by a few scientists, and often disappeared before the vaccines could be widely tested. Money did not pour in because of the few affected. I had a hunch we would get vaccines much faster because around 7 percent of the people who have ever lived are alive today–and the vast majority of literate people, not to mention people educated in imunology, who ever lived are alive today. It is a numbers problem. We have never put this many people with this level of expertise on a problem like this. There are no comparables.

    Israel appears to be close to herd immunity, with the positivity rate at 0.2 percent Monday. That is with a full vaccination rate around 55%. We don’t need everyone to get vaccinated to get back to normal. Even partial vaccination helps a good deal, so we need to consider the partial vaccination rate as well. Furthermore, even if Covid reinfections occur, they are not common–so we need to add in those who’ve had the disease already, in the U.S. a substantial number, to our vaccination rate to determine immunity. Third, even if the virus partially evades the vaccine–none fully evade it as of yet–they vaccines are still largely effective. With RNA vaccines boosters, we can address these evasions relatively quickly and easily. Fourth, there are many, many people who have not received the vaccine who still will get it. The vaccine-supporting parents of teens and kids will vaccinate their kids as the vaccines are approved (teens starting soon, by early fall for kids). Many others are willing, but need easier access–health departments will stand up and address that. Others are persuadable. Full approval this summer will help with those swayed by the “emergency use authorization means it is experimental” arguments of the antivaxxers. Young adults will get the vaccine when their colleges requrie it–or like mine, offer financial incentives. Others will fold when they realize international travel is difficult, and in many cases impossible, without being vaccinated.


    1. Yep.

      The Israelis have reached 0.8 new cases per day per 100k while having 59.7% vaccinated with a 1st dose.

      I don’t love the current US vaccination rate (it’s about 3/4 of a person per 100 people per day now), but 2 million a day here, 2 million a day there, and pretty soon you’re talking real numbers. The US is having 14.5 per 100k test positive with COVID daily while 750 per 100k per day get a shot–that’s over 50X as many people getting a shot every day as are testing positive.

      I have some concerns about whether mass vaccination of healthy under-12s is ethical without a lot more testing, but will probably vaccinate my 8-year-old, just because it’s one less thing to think about–but maybe not right away?

      (Some of the public health people I read on twitter are hesitant about vaccinating US under-12s. One of the issues with the younger kids is that they are going to be vaccinated primarily for the public good, as opposed to their individual good, so there’s a higher bar that the vaccine needs to meet for safety if they don’t individually benefit.)

      I’ll be pretty confident when/if the US hits 60% of population with one dose. New Hampshire is already there and Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont are getting there. CA is at 4.8 new cases per 100k with 49.9% vaccinated and they’re headed toward British-type numbers real soon. (The UK is at 3.3 new cases per 100k per day with 51.9% of population having had 1+ dose.)


      1. I think it will be less true that the benefit of under 12 vaccines will be for the public good and not for their own good, as they become the potential more likely hosts for the vaccine. There’s no evolutionary advantage for the virus becoming more virulent, but it can be a side affect of mutation.


  6. I’m currently bullish about a return to normal. All along I’ve been absolutely determined to avoid this disease, not only for me but for my children, because of concerns about long-term health implications. I think I mentioned Awakenings before. In that book/movie Oliver Sacks treats patients who developed completely disabling Parkinsonism and had to be institutionalized, likely because of an infection (it happened in a wave which lasted approximately ten years after the 1918 flu epidemic, then mysteriously stopped happening). It was thought at the time that the 1918 flu epidemic was responsible. Many cancers are caused by viruses–who knew thirty years ago, when we were young adults, that HPV was one of the world’s great killers? Viruses are our oldest and most vicious enemy, responsible for a good portion of the human suffering that has ever existed. A new one is to be steered away from, even at great cost. But we are the smartest aspect of mother nature, and let’s give ourselves credit here. Normalcy bias works both ways. We are being too negative. It’s time for some positivity.


  7. And finally, if we are going to cancel anyone, let’s cancel antivaxxers. Not only do they kill–let’s be frank, they are killers–they constantly bear false witness against those who have done more than any human beings that ever lived to prevent human suffering.


  8. I found a fascinating map on vaccine hesitancy:

    There seems to be some correlation between missing public radio coverage and rates of being willing to admit on a survey that you’re reluctant to accept a Covid vaccine.

    Now, on the basis of NO evidence, could we blame other news sources, that fill the vacuum of missing broadcasters in remote areas, such as Coast to Coast AM?

    I’ve never personally listened to it, but I recently got into a conversation with a couple of polite truckers about vaccination. They did seem to believe, or think it would be possible, that covid vaccination would lead to infertility. I boggle at that idea. I did come away from that conversation with the strong impression that the willingness to vaccinate is linked with class. Thus, any attempt to force people to vaccinate would be very ill-advised.

    I have a kid who scans the internet to find strange theories, so it’s hard for me to discern whether people take any ridiculous theory seriously. However, the evidence does seem to indicate that some people believe illogical things about vaccines. I think one way to counter that (long term) would be to set up more public radio broadcasters, to reach everyone in the country. If you don’t provide good information, bad information will fill the void.


  9. Regarding parents not wanting their children to go back to school, including because of racism. That’s a school failure and I cannot see accommodating it as public policy unless we know that learning is occurring (and, frankly, question that at all, since separate is never equal).

    When our schools started letting HS students go back two afternoons a week, the newspaper ran an article on some kids who weren’t returning. All I could think was how desperately we are failing all of those kids. One was a child with special needs who won’t be able to participate in the additional afternoon remote classes because they are not providing the accommodation he needs . I can’t remember what that was, but he was told he wouldn’t be able to join the afternoon remote — which occurs simultaneously with the in person classes). Another was participating in “team sports” remotely as one of her classes. The last couldn’t go to the afternoon classes because she has a paying job. And, she joins her morning classes while cooking/taking care of her family.

    I am painfully aware of the world that faces girls who aren’t sent to school because their families need them at home. The girls who are literally shot in the head because they want to learn to read. If robust online education works for a subset of kids, it should be offered as part of the slate of options at pulbic schools (not simultaneously with in person classes). But if children are staying at home because schools are too racist for them to attend, we can’t accept “separate but equal” as a society.


    1. bj said, “Regarding parents not wanting their children to go back to school, including because of racism. That’s a school failure and I cannot see accommodating it as public policy unless we know that learning is occurring (and, frankly, question that at all, since separate is never equal).”

      I have some thoughts about this:

      –A lot of families don’t actually care about school. The truant officer and CPS are the only reason their kids are in school. COVID and racism offer convenient excuses for things they would want to do anyway. It’s a lot of work getting kids up and ready for school every morning.
      –A lot of people’s social anxiety and OCD have probably gone into overdrive over the past year.
      –There has been more violence happening in the US this year, and it’s not crazy to think that there will be a lot more violence in high schools and middle schools than in previous years.
      –Hourly pay for entry level jobs has gone up a lot, so there’s going to be pressure in favor of older teens dropping out and going to work. Also, as you suggest, some older kids are probably getting pressed into childcare duties.


  10. I am also feeling hopeful that vaccination rates will be sufficient to allow a return to mostly normal. Normal to me would still allow masking in door (including museums, schools, stores, public transit, airplanes, airports) and crowded outdoor places.

    In WA, 25% of 16-17 year olds have gotten their first shots, and they have only really been eligible since April 15th (so, three weeks). So I’m hopeful our county will reach Israel levels of vaccination. We might also have reasonable hopes that previous infections + vaccinations will reach sufficient levels to continue to suppress cases and keep flare ups controllable.

    We’re going to have to work hard to push to return to normal in some spaces though. Schools most importantly, but also our community centers & libraries (Last I looked, our libraries were still mostly closed and were quarantining books).


  11. I just saw this:

    “The 7-day average of new U.S. Covid cases has fallen 12% from the week before, the
    @CDCDirector says. Hospitalizations are down 9.5% in the same period. Deaths remain flat. But: “Variants are a wild card that could reverse this progress we have made,” she warned.”

    I’m not caught up with the thread, so apologies for any duplication, but I wanted to very quickly note that this doom and gloom about variants runs the risk of discouraging people from getting vaccinated. If it’s variants-variants-variants as far as the eye can see–what is the point of getting vaccinated at all?


    1. The point is—as I understand it—just like with the flu, a vaccination for an earlier variant can give some protection, so you may not get as sick. We’re seeing that now, as the original version has been replaced by other variants in most areas of the US, but cases and hospitalizations are falling.


      1. And as to children, the original thought seems to have been that they don’t get it, because the vast majority were not floridly ill. We now know, however, that they can get it.

        According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, in the U.S. children represent about 13% of all COVID-19 cases. Research suggests that children younger than ages 10 to 14 are less likely to become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 compared to people age 20 and older.

        However, some children become severely ill with COVID-19. They might need to be hospitalized, treated in the intensive care unit or placed on a ventilator to help them breathe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

        In addition, children with underlying conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and asthma, might be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19. Children who have congenital heart disease, genetic conditions or conditions affecting the nervous system or metabolism also might be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19.

        If you want to decrease transmission of Covid, you can’t, long-term, leave 13% of the carriers unvaccinated, particularly because school aged children spend much of their time in group settings (school, day care, sports, church activities.)

        My children are now adults, but if they were younger, yes I would send them to school. I would also vaccinate them, when it is possible.


      2. “However, some children become severely ill with COVID-19.” Less than one percent get severely ill. I’m not sure that “some” is the right word.


      3. Cranberry said, “The point is—as I understand it—just like with the flu, a vaccination for an earlier variant can give some protection, so you may not get as sick.”

        But is that point getting across? Or is the CDC and media accidentally messaging the idea that there’s no point in getting vaccinated?


      4. Amy P: Variants. For example, here is the CDC warning for people thinking of traveling to Hungary (which is reportedly seeing high death rates):

        Key Information for Travelers to Hungary

        Travelers should avoid all travel to Hungary.
        Because of the current situation in Hungary even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Hungary.
        If you must travel to Hungary, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands.
        (I added the emphasis.)

        I think many people are afraid of needles, so they will seize any excuse to put off vaccination. We have not lived through the horror of pre-vaccine Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Smallpox, Polio, Whooping Cough, etc.

        On the other hand, I think many people want to think that a vaccine will them immune to all Covid. That’s wishful thinking, This thing is new to humans. It mutates.


      5. Cranberry said, “I think many people are afraid of needles, so they will seize any excuse to put off vaccination.”

        I think you’re 100% right about that–never underestimate the fear of needles in these discussions.

        That’s why I’d really welcome a combined COVID/flu shot if they can manage it. I’m a huge vaccine fan, but even I blanch at the thought of getting jabbed twice every fall for life.

        They’re talking about yearly pills and nasal sprays. It sounds a little too good to be true, but hopefully they work?


  12. In happier news, New Jersey (53% with one dose) is falling off a cliff: 54% drop in new cases over the past 14 days, 28% reduction in hospitalizations, and 24% reduction in deaths.


    1. Amy P,

      There are currently 1,068 active cases numbers, among which 84 percent are Seychellois and 16 percent are foreigners. Some 65 percent of the active cases are unvaccinated or have received only one dose, whilst the remaining have taken both doses . . . To date over 59,600 persons have received both doses of vaccines, representing 85 percent of the targeted population.”

      At least two vaccines (both requiring two doses) have been used: Sinopharm (donated by the UAE) and Covishield (donated by India and also known as the AstraZeneca vaccine).

      Seychelles is the most vaccinated country right now (62.2%).


      1. Cranberry,

        There are a couple places like that where I’d really like to know what’s going on. Seychelles is one and Maldives is another. Bahrain is up, but not on the same level.

        On the other hand, Chile didn’t seem to be improving, even despite a very vigorous vaccination campaign, but now it is.


  13. I’m seeing a lot of mainstream pushback against CDC guidelines that say that kids should be masked outside at camp this summer.

    “Masks must be worn at all times, even outdoors, by everyone, including vaccinated adults and children as young as 2 years old. The exceptions are for eating and swimming. (The guidance helpfully notes that if a person is having trouble breathing or is unconscious, no mask need be worn.)”

    “Mark Gorelik, a pediatric immunologist at Columbia University and an expert on MIS-C, the rare COVID-19-related inflammatory syndrome, said, “We know that the risk of outdoor infection is very low. We know risks of children becoming seriously ill or even ill at all is vanishingly small. And most of the vulnerable population is already vaccinated. I am supportive of effective measures to restrain the spread of illness. However, the CDC’s recommendations cross the line into excess and are, frankly, senseless. Children cannot be running around outside in 90-degree weather wearing a mask. Period.””


  14. “Goldman is going back.”

    It may well be that NZ is a much more laid back society (certainly than the high-octane finance world of NY) – but we’re just not seeing the ‘everyone back in the office’ happening in nearly such a clear-cut way.

    Employees are negotiating hard to retain some regular work-from-home patterns – and it’s pretty difficult for employers to argue that it’s not possible, or people aren’t as productive – when the evidence from the last year is (in most cases) that they are.

    A very interesting recent article – drawing from experiences around the world (including the boss of Sachs – who sounds stuck in the 60s – Don Draper kept coming to mind…).

    My take on it is, if your workplace has a culture of abusing employees, then you’re in a low trust environment, and they’ll be wanting to pull everyone in to keep an eye on them. If your employer has a history of trusting and working co-operatively with employees, then they’re much more likely to go with the flow and embrace flexi-working as a win-win scenario for both parties.

    Here in NZ ‘good’ people are precious in any organization (and darned hard to replace in a small country at the bottom of the world, with pretty much closed borders) – and if it takes flexi-working to keep them, then employer is highly motivated to negotiate.

    I was in the centre of town yesterday (flexi-working to make a 2 hour window in the middle of the day to go to an art exhibition), and was, quite frankly, shocked at the low numbers of workers – out of the office for lunch on a beautiful sunny autumn day – and the high number of shuttered shops.
    And this is after months of being effectively ‘out’ of lockdown, and with minimal infection protocols.


  15. My company, which is another bank, has been rather laid back about return to office. Except for smallish groups of people who need to be in the office for regulatory reasons (traders, basically) and those who want to be, we have been told we won’t need to be back in until 2022.

    This has been the buzz for a month or so, and was formally announced after the Goldman and JPM decisions were public. On my team discussion has shifted to whether the decisions of our competitors will speed up that timeline, and is hoping it won’t. Our company has definitely given up some real estate.

    All that is, I guess a long-winded way of saying I think there will be a lot of variation company to company about back to office at first especially, but I think it will last too.


    1. They told Steve 2022, too, a couple of months ago, but they are sending out feelers about moving that “return to the office” up. Slight pressure is starting.


    2. And Steve’s back office. He spends his whole day in front of computer there, too, so it really doesn’t matter where he does the work.


      1. Yeah, my entire team works harder and does better work from home. This has been very clear to my immediate boss all year. Not sure if it actually filters up to senior management though. In any event, it leaves me a little uneasy making childcare plans for the fall. We’re all nervously wondering if the timeline will be accelerated.


  16. In Ontario the gov’t announced virtual school will be an option for 2021/2022.

    This is probably partly because they managed us into a significant third wave (at least Canadian vaccination rates are starting to catch up! Yay! Mysterious second doses are still months out though) but also because moving some classes to virtual schooling was their plan from before the pandemic – my son was going to be required to take one of his classes online.

    There’s a reason for that and it’s pretty ugly – they want to sell Ontario high school abroad, which might not be a terrible goal, but also because they want to break the unions by removing teachers from school boards and into virtual (read: privatizable) education. So obviously people are up in arms about it.

    I am, but I also just signed up for a _pile_ of very private tutoring for my kids for the summer – math and writing with a side of science. It’s going to cost me a fair bit but it’s been a terrible year. And thus does private education start to look better and better, even in the Kumon-style chunks.

    We’re in shut down right now so only special ed classes are going in person.

    I’m planning to have my kids back in-person – my eldest should be fully vaxxed by then. Even though my eldest actually has done way, way better in virtual school. I’m just telling him I expect him to maintain those grades. I think it’s a combination of being introverted, and the model where they do two classes over 4 semesters rather than 4 classes over 2. But he also needs to grow in other areas and I think given that he’ll be 16, that is best done out in the world with peers, and I don’t have the homeschooling energy to set up all kinds of alternatives for him.

    My youngest may not be vaxxed depending on when the approvals come, but he has been wilting in virtual school, so off he goes and we’ll get him the shots as soon as we can. Clotting disorders run in my family so it’s a bit fraught (I’m relieved I got in for the Pfizer early and didn’t have to make a choice about AZ eligibility) but – Covid causes clots, so there you go.


  17. I know it’s anecdata.
    But just comparing the first term of school this year for Mr 13, with his achievement last year.

    Now we only had about 2 months of remote schooling (in 2 batches, broken up by school holidays), and the kids were then back in class – full time. But the on-again, off-again nature of the remote education, and the disconnect from learning were profound (for some kids, of course).
    In person school concentrated on bringing the kids to didn’t learn up to meet their peers – so there was little incentive or excitement in learning for the ones who ‘had’ engaged.

    Mr 13 *loved* learning from home (me, not so much), and was relatively engaged in the actual face-to-screen sessions – though there weren’t many of them…. But he developed a ‘don’t care’ attitude about school work, and just skated through the minimum. At least 1/4 of his class didn’t engage in any remote learning at all.

    Huge contrast this year. Full-time, face-to-face schooling. Standards set by the school (and full communication over where the boys might be slipping). Competition against peers (this may be a boy thing, but it seems to be a big part of their motivation).

    Mr 13 still *hates* school and wants to learn from home.
    Take this with a huge shovelful of salt – what he means is that he wants to game all day, except when Mum actually comes and catches him, and doesn’t want to have to do any physical activity at all…..

    I am enormously happier about his learning being on track through in-person school, than I was with remote school.


  18. Hometown U. now has a spot on the dashboard showing campus community vaccination levels.

    Currently, over 1/4 of students are vaccinated and nearly 1/2 of employees are vaccinated. I’m not sure if this is first doses or fully vaccinated. And some people (like our freshman) may have gotten vaccinated off-campus and not been reported yet.


  19. Laura, I’d be very interested to hear whether the anti-CRT laws being passed in red states were discussed at all in the meetings you attended.


    1. No. Not that I can remember. But there were multiple panels going on simultaneously, so those conversations might have been happening elsewhere.


  20. Encountered the tweeting about the editorial in the WaPost op-ed about bringing people back to work places by the owner of the Washingtonian, and is it really leading to a work stoppage? Is it that the editor think the owner is making decisions where the editor should be?

    I thought the op ed was pretty reasonable in laying out the reasons for an in person workplace, though it went on a little too long.


    1. The vitriol in the Twitter responses are interesting.

      I would counter that not everyone needs to be in the office every day. There are many jobs in which people travel constantly. For many of those people, Zoom meetings are much more productive, as they can schedule them back-to-back, without travel. The pandemic lockdown removed the barrier to trying it out.

      At this point, houses in our area seem to sell the instant they’re on the market. I don’t know how easy it will be to force people back into the cities. An apartment lease is time-limited, while a mortgage is not. I also wonder how many people moved back home to live with their parents, and don’t want to return to the city?


  21. Oh my goodness! Both CA and Oklahoma are now at 5 cases per 100k per day. Oklahoma’s current number of new cases is 95% off their January 2021 peak.

    There are getting to be a lot of states that only have 100-200 new cases a day.


    1. And, only 10 states showing increases at all. It’s hopeful. But, also, that we are going to have to learn to live with risk and that will require something different than we are doing.


      1. bj said, “And, only 10 states showing increases at all. It’s hopeful. But, also, that we are going to have to learn to live with risk and that will require something different than we are doing.”

        Have you looked at Youyang Gu’s stuff?

        He stopped fiddling with his projections earlier this spring, but he’s still eerily close to right.

        He has the US bottoming out at 4k new cases a day (not just diagnosed cases but all COVID cases total) by the end of July, but then edging up to 48k daily cases by Jan. 1.

        His model also assumes that we don’t get better than 64% immunity (vaccine + disease) pretty much ever, and with us hitting 60% by around May 25–which is really soon. 64% is supposed to happen around November 22.

        It will be interesting to see how this pans out. I’m curious about two things:

        –Does the less-vaccinated sunbelt get a 2021 summer surge?
        –How big will the 2021-2022 winter surge be?


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