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NYTimes AGAIN Wants to Keep 1920s Model in Place at a High Cost

July 1, 2020

The NYTimes op ed writers are intent on maintaining the status quo in public schools even if the costs are dauntingly high. Today’s editorial page features an article by epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo and pediatrician Joshua Sharfstein suggesting that the government should prioritize the reopening of schools over the reopening of bars, gyms and health clubs. That I agree on! But then the two doctors offer a list of actions that should be funded, action that will result in astronomical short term costs with no long term pay-off and no changes whatsoever the the current age-based grade leveling that is the basis for schooling today. Oh, and as you read the ideas the doctors list it should be readily evident that the ideas are wildly impractical as well given the facilities available, the technology available, the staffing available, the buses and vans available, and the supply of bus drivers. Among the costly and impractical ideas the doctors promote are:

  • finding other buildings and space where they could expand (classroom space)” by renting tents, leasing space in other buildings,
  • Checking students and staff for symptoms daily (which will require more staff)
  • Requiring frequent hand washing or the use hand sanitizer
  • Mandating the wearing of masks “for all who can wear them“, and providing “…extra masks…for students and staff members who do not bring their own.
  • Establishing in-school bubbles, “…small groups of students who will learn, eat lunch and have recess together” a creative solution that will result in the need for more space (see first bullet) AND more staff
  • Preparing for a rapid closure by “…using curriculums that can be rapidly adapted for online instruction” and, presumably, having the resources available to make this remote learning available to ALL students
  • Allow “families in households with much older relatives or people with health problems” to opt out of in school instruction and continue with remote education… oh… and presumably provide the necessary internet access and computers should those families require it.
  • Assign “older staff members or those with chronic medical conditions who want to be kept out of physical contact with students” to teach online classes for those students who remain at home, presuming, of course, that those older staff members WANT to offer remote instruction and are CAPABLE of offering it effectively… and there is a perfect match between the “older staff members” and the “opt out” students.
  • Instead of crowding students onto buses, “...consider car pools and van rides for children in their bubbles”, which would be done by increasing “…the number of buses in service and employing staggered start times to transport fewer children at once.” This assumes that bus and van purchases can be made quickly and qualified drivers are readily available…

The doctors DO realize that these ideas, there practicality notwithstanding, WILL cost money:

Each of these steps requires resources now. Congress has provided hundreds of billions of dollars of relief for small businesses, but early funding for schools has largely been spent on meals and laptops for remote learning. States should provide funding to school districts in advance of pending legislation in Congress that would provide $915 billion to state and local budgets.

We have a nation that is led by someone who questions medical advice, sees mandatory steps like wearing masks as an infringement on liberty, and doesn’t want to spend any money to “bail out” states and a Senate that appears willing to support him at every turn. Sorry, docs, I don’t think your ideas are going to get much traction… but opening bars, spas, and casinos?

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