Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

School Re-Openings Appear to Be a Grim Farce

Earlier today, Trump said something so astonishingly untrue that social media companies had to call him on it (a rarity): he said that children were "virtually immune" to COVID-19.

Well, that certainly isn't true. They may not be as likely to get ill from the disease, but many still do and death is still a possibility. Some children experience grave immune reactions that can lead to organ dysfunction and death. And, given that this is a novel disease, we don't know what the long-term affects might be, but it appears that people who had mild cases may still experience heart, lung, and neurological consequences for long after--and it is not clear that experiencing an infection necessarily results in long-term immunity.

What is understood, and is pretty disturbing, is that children can carry high viral loads of COVID-19 and are pretty efficient at spreading it.  So, if you take a look at the graphic above, cadged from this Buzzfeed piece, you can understand pretty well how this ordinary school hallway could be a rich disease vector. All of these kids have teachers, counselors, maintenance staff, administrative staff at school that they come into contact with, and then they go home to their families--and no, it really isn't possible to truly socially distance from one's own kids. And kids can tragically lose their parents to this disease, which poses a danger for them even if they remain healthy themselves.

We've already seen how this will play out from episodes like a sleepaway camp where 260 kids became infected. In schools, however, there's more potential for disruption. Take cases where a handful of kids are identified as being infected at any point. That means some kids and likely some teachers will need to quarantine. How many? For how long? This disrupts part of the school year for them--and will be a recurring theme of the the school year. How many teachers/students being out of class due to illness or quarantine make the entire experiment pointless?

And another thing to consider: whether there is incentive for a school for whatever reason to be less than truthful about infection-rate, or to risk kids' and teachers' and parents' exposure for whatever reason. You know, for reasons like concerns about funding, or the importance of school athletics, etc.

Wanting things to be fine don't make them so. Wanting the pandemic to be over with and for life to go back to normal does not make it so. There needs to be a plan for more remote learning and more flexible school hours, and for ways for working parents to find non-school-related adult supervision for their kids. Those would be elements of a realistic school plan--not this forced-normality with barely even PPE requirements.

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