I wrote this Tweet last night:
I had a hard time getting to sleep last night– those damn eye shields really are a pain in the ass– but beyond that I was busy writing this post in my head, starting with the kids waiting outdoors for the bus and going through to the end of the day. And, yeah, it was going to be long as hell. Like, Star Wars movie review levels of long.
And then I thought about it this morning, and it occurred to me that this doesn’t really need to be complicated.
We cannot reopen schools yet.
We cannot reopen schools because there is no way to make 34 people crowded into the same room safe, masks or otherwise. It is not possible given perfect compliance from everyone involved, and we will not get anything even vaguely close perfect compliance from everyone involved. And that, really, is the end of it. I can talk all I want about hand sanitizer and bathrooms and hallways and passing periods and discipline and lunch and breakfast and, dear God, band and choir,(*) but it all keeps boiling down to the fact that in my classroom I will have 32 kids and another adult beyond myself and that is not safe. Period.
I would be more willing to give this a shot if my district was setting things up in such a way that I saw half of my students each day. But even then, that model only holds up until someone gets sick, which is inevitable. Once we start talking about contact tracing and quarantine all hell breaks loose, and the one place where I am willing to literally point and laugh at my district leaders is when they claim that there will be enough subs to cover sick and/or quarantined adults.
This is an utter fantasy. No, there will not. There aren’t enough pencils and paper, for God’s sake, there will not be enough hand sanitizer and there will not be enough masks and there sure as hell will not be enough subs. There haven’t been enough subs for years. It’s not going to get better when the subs have to shove their faces into a petri dish to go make their little $100 a day, and once a single sub gets sick we have now potentially infected multiple buildings in the course of just a few days.
We can’t do this. We might try and do it anyway, because if you ever thought that maybe Americans weren’t utter idiots the last six months have rather definitively proved you wrong, but we can not do this.
I also keep seeing people throwing up their hands and pretending to panic about What Parents Will Have to Do if their kids remain home. I have said this before, and I will reiterate: first of all, your kids have been home since March, so let’s not pretend that this is a new problem. Your kids are home right now, because it is summertime, and there is no magic switch that flips in August and makes whatever child care scenario you have going right now somehow magically impossible. Keep doing whatever you’re doing right now. It might suck! I agree! I have a kid too, and I’ve been at home with him since March as well!
I agree. I just don’t care. Because your child care problems are not a reason for me to endanger my health and my family’s health. Your child care problems are not a reason to make what is already uncontrolled spread of a highly contagious and incredibly dangerous disease massively worse. Because that’s what will happen.
There are going to be teacher strikes in a few weeks if this isn’t settled better, folks. We aren’t going back. Nobody’s going back. Best get used to it right now.
And yes, this was absolutely the short version.
(*) I have many friends who are band and choir teachers. I am very sorry, but your classes are just going to have to go away this year. Your classes generate so many droplets that band instruments have special valves that are used to drain the spit out of them. It’s just not possible to do this safely right now, even in comparison with other classes. I love y’all, but … no.