MO Gov. Mike Parson Wants To Throw Kids Into The Deep End Of COVID-19
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson doesn't know what all the fuss is about with sending kids and teachers to their deaths in the fall. This is what he told talk-radio host Marc Cox on Friday:
These kids have got to get back to school ... They're at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they're not going to the hospitals. They're not going to have to sit in doctor's offices. They're going to go home and they're going to get over it.
Even in 2020 one gets to meet so few true fools.
Supporters for reopening schools both willy and nilly point to data showing that adults make up most COVID-19 cases. When children do contract the virus, their cases are mild, and the few who develop symptoms severe enough for hospitalization usually recover. Kryptonite clearly only affects Superman, so there's no harm in letting your child play with a radioactive hunk of it you found in your backyard.
The problem is that we still don't know everything about this novel coronavirus. Schools were among the first things shut down, along with summer camps and most opportunities for kids to gather in large groups (movie theaters, for instance). Children also don't tend to work any essential jobs. They were effectively social distanced.
Instead of flattening, new confirmed cases are shooting upward. Reopening schools in this environment is insanely dangerous. Parson also talks about kids inevitably catching COVID-19 like it's one of several bad colds that goes around. When sick kids stay home from school, who does the governor think takes care of them? Even in a scenario where most children are asymptomatic, they are still spreading the virus to adult staff and other students. This is why some teachers are literally writing their wills.
St. Dominic High School in O'Fallon, Missouri, held an outdoor graduation ceremony on July 8 and a prom on July 10. At least 21 people, including 19 students, have since tested positive for COVID-19. The school is cancelling all student activities through August 9 but still plans on starting classes August 17.
Parson has since said his grotesque comments were “taken out of context." The governor told Leslie Aguilar at KCTV 5 in Kansas City that his critics should consider what “students will miss out on if online learning continues."
AGUILAR: [Parsons] brought up the point that a lot of students rely on schools for meals.
The USDA is planning a range of options to feed hungry kids that don't require dunking them in coronavirus. This includes parent/guardian pickup of meals for students participating in distance learning.
The governor is correct that it's harder (though not impossible) for students in abusive environments to make pleas to teachers. There are many ways in which distance learning is not the same or equal to on-site education, but it has the distinct advantage of not killing a lot of people. (If you were wondering if Parson brought up poor kids' unequal access to wifi or broadband, no, that was not one of his major concerns.)
PARSON: I would never in my life want to take kids or teachers and put them in there in a terrible situation. But I do think you have to weigh out the science of this and where you go with this.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has looked at the science and provided guidance for cautious reopening, but Donald Trump attacked the precautions as "very tough and expensive."
What's maddening is that Parson acts as if distance learning is a permanent solution. It's potentially only until cases are contained, which admittedly at the rate the US is going could take forever. We chose not to act sensibly like other countries that are returning to somewhat normal life.
Parson lifted the state's stay-at-home and reopened businesses in May. He declared Missouri fully reopened in mid-June, and the seven-day case average quadrupled from 200 to 854 in just a month. If reopening schools safely was so important to him, he might've considered hunkering down over the summer, but he chose to play the grasshopper in the fable. Now, it's the children who'll suffer for his choices.
Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).