Well, this sucks

I gotta say, I know a lot of places have been harder-hit than us, and I know good and well we’re far from the first area to have to do this, but … Christ, is that a jarring fucking headline to see on your hometown newspaper’s website.

My district just announced that we’re going back to all virtual instruction starting after school next Tuesday. Which is good; we shouldn’t have been back in the first place. We started off the year with the district telling us “data, not dates,” and keeping us out until a week before the end of the first quarter, which … maybe some attention to dates might have been good, as there’s no real reason to come back right before a quarter ends. It was made clear to us that we’d be following the county’s recommendations for our metrics and for when we’d be closing.

Then shit got a lot worse, and they brought us back, which makes perfect sense, ignoring the county-level data in favor of quietly moving to state metrics. I can tell you everything you need to know about our state numbers by pointing out that nothing has changed on our alert level since school restarted despite the fact that we have something like ten times as many daily infections now than we did then. If that can happen without your alert level changing, your metrics are (deliberately) garbage.

All of our neighboring districts have announced in the last few days that they were going virtual. The word from our district– this is a direct quote– was that school closings would be “reactive, not preventative”– in other words, we’d be closing if we got lots of cases or lots of absences due to quarantines in schools, but only individual schools affected by those cases or absences. We would only close because of people being sick, not to prevent people becoming sick. Then they announced two schools would close. Neither of the two schools appeared to be worse than any others on their covid dashboard; indeed, one of them wasn’t even on there.

(The reliability of our district Covid dashboard is, to put it mildly, in dispute.)

Meanwhile, my school has averaged 10 teachers out a day in the last couple of weeks. I don’t know what they think is going on if a quarter of the teachers being out isn’t enough. My kids have been doubled and tripled up in classrooms, which eliminates any benefit of cutting the number of kids in the building.

And today, they abandoned that policy– granted, it was dumb, but still– and sent us all home. In the hour and a half since announcing we were going back to virtual they have already announced that the day we were going back was wrong and changed it– I had to rewrite a paragraph of this because we got new information. Right now they’re still in school Monday and Tuesday and then out indefinitely after that; Wednesday was going to be the first day of Thanksgiving break anyway.

I suspect I will see virtually none of my kids on Monday and Tuesday. I am seriously considering not bothering to assign anything.

God, I’m glad it’s Friday.

In which I turn a tweet into a post

Who’s the dumbest Democratic elected official, at a national level? Meaning, like, either a member of the national government or a high enough state or city-level official that people who don’t live there might have heard of them?

I’m either back on my bullshit or still on my bullshit, depending on how long you’ve been around here, and I have (like many of you) grown increasingly impatient with stupid Republican arguments. The person in the White House is still insisting, as recently as today, that America is having more coronavirus infections on a daily basis than some countries have had in total because we have more testing. A recently elected Republican Senator announced this morning that America fought in World War II to preserve Europe from the horrors of socialism. And enough Republicans have confidently asserted something about masks that was utterly horseshit or pointed at a mostly-red electoral map of America recently and smugly declared that they don’t understand how the Democrats could possibly when when so much of America votes red that I really don’t feel the need to point to a specific example. It literally happens multiple times a day.

There has got to be a similar Democratic equivalent. There’s got to be. Like, this has got to be my bubble working against me. There are dumb Democrats, I know there are, because Democrats are people and people are dumb. By definition, there must therefore be some really dumb elected Democrats. I’m not asking for stupid on the level of the numbskull that just lost his job, or any of the various no-exaggeration brain-damaged Qanon morons they just put in office. Just regular, run-of-the-mill, that’s a dumb guy dumb guys.

Like, Biden is probably the dumbest person I’ve ever voted for for President, but the only reason that can be true is his competition. When you’re being compared to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Al Gore and John Kerry (himself probably the least of that group), it’s gonna be really hard to come off as intellectually impressive. On any kind of remotely objective scale, he’s at least high-average, I think.

The funny thing is that I think if I asked Republicans who the dumbest elected Democrat was, I’d probably take their answer as evidence that they themselves were pretty fucking stupid. I suspect it’d be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, frankly, and I don’t know how many times this woman has to run rings around Republicans before they admit she’s smarter than most of them. That’s only something they go after her for because of sexism, racism, and ageism; she’s a young woman of color so she can’t be smart.

Seriously. I want to know. Who’s the Mike Pence of the Democratic party?

In which the autogaslighting continues

This is not my district, but it’s nearby, and I’m looking at this and reading it and genuinely doubting my own sanity, because I cannot for the life of me imagine why the fuck anyone would ever think any of this is a good idea.

Yesterday was the first day that Indiana had over 5000 new coronavirus cases. There were 5038. Today– and “today,” to make sure everyone understands, is a word that means “one day after yesterday,”– there were over 6500. School districts across northern Indiana and southern Michigan are going back to full-time virtual or dialing back on the plans they had in place, and this is what Mishawaka thinks is a good idea once 2nd semester starts? Not only are they dumping all of their grade-cohort kids into the building at the same time, thus doubling the number of students in every single class they’re in, thus fucking up any actual chance at social distancing in hallways, classrooms, or at lunch, but by shifting to grade-only cohorts they’re guaranteeing that lots and lots of families with more than one child are sending those kids to school on different days.

Like fucking hell the Board of Health okayed that. I don’t believe that for a second. And they actually talk about how they already don’t have the staff to keep the buildings open! Do you think this shit is going to get better come January? You want people to be more vigilant, but you’re making the situation in your buildings worse on purpose???

And they don’t get into this in the letter, but if you were to click through and look at some of their individual school plans, you’d find out that they’re tying whether you can be 100% virtual to grades and attendance. In other words, they think that if your grades are poor they can require you to come to school part time.

Utter fucking madness. It’s either them or me. Someone is completely crazy. I just wish I could be certain who it was, because more and more I find myself living in a world where I have to conclude that huge numbers of the people around me are out of their Goddamned minds, and eventually it’s going to get to the point where it has to be me and not them.


In which developments fascinate

Everybody seemed to be in a good mood today; none of the usual Monday-morning crabbiness. I wonder why?

In other news, my partner teacher has Covid. They emailed me last night to let me know, and I got an official notification from the principal today that a staff member had tested positive but that I was not considered a “close contact” of the person and therefore had no need to quarantine. Which, duh, this is exactly why I’m working from home, a decision that is now 100% vindicated. As of right now, I’m not clear on how many people in the building are currently quarantining, but I pay attention to the emails we get, and several staff members don’t appear to have been in the building for a while. My partner said that they had contracted the disease at school in the email, but wasn’t specific as to where that certainty came from.

No word also on how many students are expected to quarantine. I would think a good portion of our mutual students would count as close contacts, and I’d have to hear about it from them, as the office isn’t especially likely to tell me what students they’ve sent home. That said, the guidance the district is using is bullshit, so it’s entirely possible they’ve determined that none of the students are close contacts. I’m sure we will know quickly if that was the right decision to make.

Meanwhile, this is what the county looks like:

And this is what the state looks like:

School started just after that huge spike in the county data, which was Notre Dame sorting through the mess of their first few weeks. They came back just before we did.

I’m sure everything will be fine.

In which this isn’t fair

It is an unbelievably perfect demonstration of how fucking perverse all of existence is right now that, literally less than ten minutes after telling my wife that I was getting (hah!) stir-crazy and wanted to go out and impulse-buy something, I went outside and checked the mail and found a brand-new Goddamned Best Buy card waiting for me. The card currently carries no balance at all; I typically use it only for large purchases (really, the only reason I ever enter a Best Buy nowadays) and the last thing I bought was my desktop, which is a 2017 model. I could use a new laptop, as the battery on the old one is starting to go, or I could make the smarter choice and just replace the damn battery. Similarly, for the first time since my initial upgrade I’ve cast an eye at the new Apple Watch, but there’s just no good reason to do that either. In either case it would be spending money just to spend money, and I’m trying to be smarter about that crap nowadays.

(I do expect to have to shell out the money for the laptop battery pretty soon, which will be a couple hundred bucks. But the thing is … six? seven? years old and there’s no speed issues at all, and if I bought a new one it would be north of two grand. The only problem is the battery, and since I don’t go anywhere I can keep it plugged in most of the time. I even still have my work laptop at home in case of emergencies.)

(Checks to see if BB has PS5s available)

(They do not)

In general, the election has failed to improve my mood. Other than the presidency, which is all over but the shouting at this point, I went from “it looks like I’ve lost every other race I care about” the other day to “I have lost every other race I care about” today. The School Board race was especially heinous; not only did the plagiarizer not lose her seat to the crank, but the other district seat up for reelection, another person who voted to return, also won, and the teachers lost their best advocate on the Board in favor of an imperious ass who I am not at all looking forward to having to deal with, ever. My personal interactions with her when she was with the district were never good, plenty of people have much worse stories than I do, and her husband was fired for incompetence.

And yet, because this is South Bend and we hate education here, she actually got the most votes of any of the At-Large candidates. So. Dandy.

But yeah: I’ve been waiting for that moment when it feels like the weight falls off my shoulders, and apparently Biden at least theoretically clinching the Presidency hasn’t done it yet. In theory the rest of the networks (particularly the AP) getting the fuck in line and making the call might help, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to relax until the fucker is hauled out of the White House by his hairpiece, preferably to be tossed directly into jail to die alone in a deep pit. Apparently the AP is waiting for Biden’s margin to exceed half a point before they call Pennsylvania; I’m not sure what the holdup is otherwise. Either way, I thought I was going to feel better about all this by now.