Stop Trying To Make Schools Happen
School bus photo by H. Michael Miley, Creative Commons license 2.0

Time for all the kids to get ready for school, and this year, in addition to the usual back-to-school preparations, families are wondering what kind of school the kids will be getting back to (online, in-person, or "hybrid"). Kids are looking forward to seeing their friends again, at least when they're not having anxiety attacks about the coronavirus. And teachers are updating their lesson plans, and in many places, their wills.

In Yr Dok Zoom's hometown of Boise, Idaho, the school district was supposed to hold a meeting Monday night to decide whether to open for in-person classes on August 17 as originally planned, or whether to shift some or all instruction online at first. Unfortunately, the board's streaming software kept crashing and locking out board members and the public, so after a while they gave up and rescheduled the meeting for tonight. We bet Boise won't be the only school system that has to try turning the school year off and on again this year. Let's take a look at some of the big school-reopening stories around the USA!

At least the nation's greatest expert on education and public health knows what to do as the pandemic gathers new strength all across the country: Act like everything's fine!

Mr. Trump may or may not remember that his youngest son, Barron, attends a private school in Montgomery County, Maryland. The county's public health officer directed last week that private schools shouldn't resume in-person instruction until October 1, but Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan overruled that directive with an executive order leaving reopening decisions to school districts and parents.

Hey, for some reason we just thought of that scene in Jaws where the mayor insists his kids go swimming. No idea why that popped into our head. Amity means "friendship." A lot of people don't know that.

In Georgia, the state's largest school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools in the Atlanta metro area, is set to reopen with online-only classes August 12. But that may be complicated by the fact that after teachers and staff returned to campuses to prepare for the school year, "approximately 260 employees [...] had been excluded from work due to a positive case or contact with a case" of COVID-19 as of late last week, according to a GCPS spokesperson. (The infections seem to be due to spread in the community, not at the schools.) Despite the outbreak among school employees, and Gwinnett County's having the state's second-highest rate of COVID-19 infections, CNN reports some parents protested to demand in-person classes.

Also in Georgia, in an unrelated incident, at least 260 children and staffers at a sleepaway camp tested positive for COVID-19 in June, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We can see why Debbie Downers from the CDC aren't invited to Donald Trump's coronavirus briefings! But June was a long time ago and we're probably only mentioning that outbreak to scare you into thinking schools might not be so safe, when the reality is that nobody knows exactly how dangerous they are. Honestly, what could go wrong?

Fine, maybe that.

In cities across the country, teachers, students, and parents held protests to demand that schools only reopen when it's safe to do so, and that such decisions be guided by science, not the desire to Make America Open To Infection Again. The teachers union in Milwaukee protested with fake headstones, like the one below reading "RIP GRANDMA CAUGHT COVID HELPING GRANDKIDS WITH HOMEWORK."

In San Antonio, Texas, and elsewhere, people held protests via car caravans, to ensure nobody got too close to each other. Unlike the gun-nut protests to end lockdowns, these folks actually stayed in their cars, if you can imagine.

The Indianapolis Star is keeping a running tally of coronavirus cases in Indiana schools, which reopened last week already. Most of the cases identified so far involved athletes, because schools were allowed to open up gyms for pre-season f'ball training on July 1. But one kid at Greenfield Central Junior High School tested positive after the first day of school, last Thursday.

Economists at Goldman Sachs worry that if schools remain closed, the lack of childcare could be bad for the economy as parents decide they need to stay home to watch kids. Hey, we can think of something that might help! Instead of rushing to reopen either schools or businesses, how about Congress actually does its goddamn job and extends unemployment benefits and aid to schools — both included in the Democrats' plan that already passed the House in May — so parents and kids don't have to die for the Dow?

And finally, the New York Timesoffers this cautionary tale on what happened when Israel rushed to open up its schools in May, because the virus appeared at the time to be under control:

Within days, infections were reported at a Jerusalem high school, which quickly mushroomed into the largest outbreak in a single school in Israel, possibly the world.

The virus rippled out to the students' homes and then to other schools and neighborhoods, ultimately infecting hundreds of students, teachers and relatives.

Man, it really makes you wonder: Why is Israel trying to make Donald Trump look stupid?

We'll bring you more School Reopening news, just as soon as Boise Schools figure out how to deliver school lunch mystery meat over the internet. Stay safe!

[Idaho Education News / CNN / CNN / WaPo / WaPo/ CNN / NYT / School bus photo by H. Michael Miley, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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