Sunday, August 09, 2020

America's Coming Disaster: Reopening Schools


How many more Texans have to die because of these two clowns?

Trump is still lying about children being immune to COVID-19. I wonder if he knows anyone in Nueces County, Texas. The only big significant city in the county is Corpus Cristi. It's Trump country. In 2016 Trump won Nueces County and in 2018-- in the middle of a so-called "blue wave," Nueces County gave Greg Abbott 56.3% of its vote. All of the county is in the 34th congressional district and voters there supported Trump enabler Michael Cloud over progressive Democrat Eric Holguin. That said, 56% of the residents are Latino. Neither the lame-ass DCCC nor the Texas Democratic Party takes the district even remotely seriously. The candidate this cycle is ultimate vanity candidate, Rocky de la Fuente's scam-artist son Ricardo, who is also running in FL-24 and in March lost the primary in CA-21.

I'm only bringing up Nueces County because there is a major outbreak of COVID-19 among children, at least one of whom has died. In mid-July the county reported 85 babies with COVID-- and now that number has risen to 167-- these are children under the age of 2. The county itself, like most of Texas, is a COVID-hotspot-- over 14,000 cases in the county (including 436 reported Friday) and half a million statewide. 12% of Nueces' cases are in people under 19.

And yet... last week, Greg Abbott, the Trumpist governor of Texas, blocked local health authorities from shutting down classrooms before the school year has started. "Since then, reported the Texas Tribune, "he has repeatedly said he is trusting local school leaders to decide whether and how to bring students back to classrooms this fall. Those actions have left local officials confused about the limitations of their authority as the debate over reopening schools in the state continues. Abbott’s decision to curb the role of local health authorities has added to the ongoing conflict between the governor and local governments during the pandemic, with mayors and judges across the state voicing frustration over having their hands tied by the state’s response. Some superintendents say that despite Abbott’s statements to the contrary, their ability to respond to the pandemic is still limited, and many of their questions have gone unanswered even as school is slated to start in the coming weeks. They are worried their decisions could result in consequences from the state, including cuts to funding, and some say they would prefer high-stakes decisions affecting student and employee health to stay with medical experts... Some superintendents, especially in areas where the virus is rampant, balked at the idea of waiting for kids and teachers to get sick before shutting down their campuses in the middle of the year, instead of working with local health officials to close classrooms if cases spike again."

I'm worried about the kids-- in Texas and everywhere else-- but I'm really worried about the teachers, who are more likely to get sick and to get seriously sick and to die. My closest friend is a teacher whose district is fighting with the union about teachers being forced to show up in person everyday. Many of the teachers in his school are religious fanatics who refuse to wear masks because, they claim, Jesus is protecting them. On Saturday, writing for the Wall Street Journal, Kate King and Caitlin McCabe looked at what teachers need in order to be relatively safe if forced into reopening situations. "Teachers,"they wrote, "are stocking up on face coverings, hoping to protect themselves and their students from the coronavirus as some U.S. schools begin in-person instruction. Many states and school districts have said they would provide personal-protective equipment to those who need it, but some teachers say they haven’t received it yet and aren’t sure what will be distributed or when it will arrive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that teachers, staff and students wear cloth face coverings whenever possible amid growing evidence that masks help reduce the virus’s spread and may offer the wearer some protection. Consistent use of face coverings, the CDC said, is most important indoors and when it is difficult to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. The agency also suggests that schools consider regular cleaning and hand washing or sanitizing."
In Guthrie, Okla., middle-school teacher Bryan Dearing said his district is recommending but not requiring students and staff to wear masks when schools reopen Aug. 20. Mr. Dearing said school officials told teachers they would be given two face masks but gave little other information about personal-protective equipment.

“I asked, ‘Is that two masks a week? Two masks a day?’” he said. “No one can tell me. I’m a teacher, and I have no clue what’s going on when we start school in three weeks.”

Mike Simpson, superintendent of Guthrie Public Schools, said the district has already spent more than $50,000 on personal-protective equipment, including hand sanitizer and two washable masks for every staff member. He said Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration has promised schools more protective gear.

Mr. Dearing said he has purchased and is considering wearing scrubs similar to what medical professionals wear, which he can wash easily when he gets home every day. His wife also raised $390 on GoFundMe to buy him a 360-degree face shield with a built-in air purifying respirator. But it hasn’t arrived yet, and Mr. Dearing is worried he will start the school year without it.

A report published in mid-July by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine supported reopening schools full-time, especially for younger and special-needs students. It recommended schools provide surgical masks for teachers and staff as well as hand washing stations or hand sanitizer. It also suggests reorganizing classrooms to promote social distancing and boost cleaning and air-ventilation protocols.

These precautions would cost a school district with eight buildings and 3,200 students about $1.8 million, the report said.

As schools have reopened overseas, researchers found that widespread and proper use of masks can be integral to helping prevent outbreaks.

When a school in Israel reopened in May and subsequently exempted children from wearing masks amid a heat wave, a coronavirus outbreak swept through the school, with 13% of students and about 17% of staff members testing positive shortly thereafter, according to a study of the incident. The study also said crowded classrooms and other factors may have contributed to the virus’s spread.
Israel botched its school reopening really badly-- criminally actually, since it was all about politics-- and the country was thrown into a worse pandemic than it was originally. Ever since the school reopening began, the pandemic has been virulent in Israel. On Thursday, Israel reported 1,640 new cases, an immense number for a small country and on Friday another 1,432 cases. Yesterday, Israel reported 1,333 new cases, bringing the total to 82,324, which comes to 8,951 cases per million Israelis-- worse than any European country bigger than a postage stamp. Israel's population of 9.2 million is the 96th biggest in the world. Their caseload is the 31st biggest and their new cases per day (yesterday) was the 19th biggest. Entirely because of a botched reopening of the schools. If anyone thinks states like Texas (6,892 new cases yesterday), Florida (8,502 new cases yesterday) and Georgia (4,423 new cases yesterday) are going to do it better... they need to have their heads examined.

Progressive Democrat Julie Oliver, in a tight race with Trump enabler Roger Williams in central Texas, has a much more people-oriented perspective on this than Abbott does. She told me today the same thing she's telling voters in TX-25. "Here are the concrete steps we need to take to reopen our schools:
Consult parents, teachers, administrators, and others on the front lines of this issue in Texas.
Close the gaps in internet access for rural and low-income communities for distance learning.
Ensure that schools have the equipment and supplies they need to be safe.
Reduce the number of new cases in a county for at least 14 consecutive days as a prerequisite for districts reopening.
Secure federal funds so our school districts can establish the infrastructure to test, trace, and isolate new cases.
The bottom line is that, to reopen our schools, we need to let experts-- including teachers and parents-- and science guide us. We can’t be reckless about this. Too many lives are at stake. Our parents, teachers, and children deserve better."

Brownsville, Texas, high-school teacher Patrick Alvarez said he bought a partial-face respirator mask and cotton masks with filters because he wanted something that offered a little more protection than the disposable medical masks he believes his school will provide. He has diabetes, and is also worried about infecting his family.

Mr. Alvarez, who owns a small educational-supplies store with his wife, estimated that 90% of sales this summer are of protective equipment.

“A lot of the teachers that come in are buying because they’re not sure what they’ll be given,” he said. “There’s a lot of anxiety.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office said Tuesday that the state has distributed protective equipment to schools, including more than 59 million masks, over 500,000 face shields, 560,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and tens of thousands of thermometers.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers union, expressed frustration in a statement Friday that teachers feel compelled to buy their own protective gear.

“In a good year, teaching is one of the only professions where workers are forced to buy their own supplies to subsidize what should be a cost borne by the employer,” she said. Now, she added, “It’s become a matter of life and death.”

Some businesses have sprung up specifically to sell face coverings and other protective gear for children. New York-based Little Lives PPE makes child-size face shields that can be worn repeatedly.

Co-founder Samira Brown, a pediatrician, said she believes that “you need to be protecting your eyes, nose and mouth.”

The CDC doesn’t recommend face shields as a substitute for masks, citing a lack of evidence for how effectively they prevent respiratory droplet spread. However, Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert, said during a recent virtual discussion with a teachers union that, in addition to a mask, teachers could consider wearing goggles or a face shield.

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At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might ask if sending our spawn to schools is useful anyway. we don't teach them critical thinking, history, math nor science. America denies science and why teach a kid to know shit when NOT knowing anything is so much better in this shit society?

maybe letting them die of a virus is more merciful than making them live as wage slaves in a nation that hates the poor and wants them to get sick and die when they are older anyway.

or they might be slaughtered by some yahoo with an AR15.

And if they live long enough, climate change will kill them anyway.

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on, 8:54! You KNOW why the kids have to go back to school! It's the only place society has for them so that the parents can go to work and make some greedhead even wealthier! Clinton's neocons said it best: "IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!"

The economy is only good when the wealthy are taking their pounds of flesh from the American carcass! We get the bones.

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, 10:48, there is that. I was just coming from a different direction.

Kids tend to know that they are a terrible burden on their hapless parents. They know that society gives not one zeptofuck about their welfare, as proven by gun laws and forcing them back into classrooms to spread a pandemic. A few even know about global warming... well, Greta Thunburg does anyway. And those in HS may be aware of their anorexic prospects for meaningful work after.

But there is beer, booze and various other controlled substances that are cheap. And there is that teevee machine and video games. And most parents will have at least a couch to sleep on indefinitely. So... life is good?

At 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only for the wealthy, 6:40.


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