August 12 Report: The School Question and COVID-19

Texans from the class of 2020. Photo by Mike&Noemi Gonzalez on Unsplash.
The coronavirus impacted 2020 seniors and now it is playing havoc with the new school year. Photo by Mike & Noemi Gonzalez on Unsplash.

At dinner last night, which we tend to watch with the news on, my wife asked me if I would still send my youngest daughter to school given the COVID-19 situation.  This is a theoretical question, since all our kids have graduated into the real world.

I assumed she meant college, and I said, “Yes, because she’s pretty healthy, but I might not let her come home for weekends or holidays until Christmas.”

“What if she was in junior high?” she asked.

That was more of a challenging question, but I decide that I would.  First, because she didn’t take the bus; second because she went to a relatively small private school; and third because kids just don’t seem to get COVID-19 much, and when they it doesn’t strike them very seriously.

The threat of sending her to school was more a threat to us, her parents.  But if she was in junior high, I would have been about 42 and the threat of COVID-19 to my personal health would not be that significant.

The School Question

This is the decision parents everywhere are facing this month, assuming that their schools actually open for in-person classes.  It should be a personal, private decision about your family’s health and your child’s education, but there is so much fear mongering and misinformation out there that it becomes almost impossible to make an informed decision.

I think that if I had the choice today, I would send my young kids, say third grade and lower, to stay with the grandparents in the country.  The British did something similar during WWII.  Operation Pied Piper moved 1.5 million children and pregnant women from cities to rural areas so they would avoid the German bombers expected to target British cities. If COVID-19 is as big a threat as some make it seem, do we owe our children any less?

Teachers as Essential Workers

I watched a news interview the other day in which a nurse said something along the lines of: “I had to go to work at the hospital every day in the middle of the coronavirus crisis because I am considered an essential worker.  Teachers are essential workers, too.  They should get back to work.”  Hard to argue with that.  Either K-12 education is important or it isn’t.  You can’t have it both ways.

In addition to providing basic information, public schools provide free daycare, which allows parents to work without needing a paid child care provider.  For too many kids, schools also provide a significant amount of their total weekly caloric and nutritional intake.  (According to the USDA, about 30 million kids benefit from free or low-cost school lunches.) 

While we may debate the value of a public school education, they usually manage to teach kids to read and do basic arithmetic.  Some may even teach critical thinking, problem solving, and how to work well with others.  And finally, they provide the social interaction that kids seem to require as part of their development.

It’s safe to say that the country won’t get back to normal until schools get back to normal.

Orgy of Incoherence

An interesting article by Omar S. Khan, COVID Incoherence: Cuckoled by COVID, appeared on Medium and was reprinted elsewhere as Exposing COVID-19’s “Orgy of Incoherence” addresses the bad decisions ad the panic mongering that drive them.  It’s well worth reading.

Among the many interesting nuggets is this one: According to CDC data, school age children are more likely to die from drowning than COVID-19.

Kind of puts the school debate into perspective, doesn’t it?

It makes you think twice about how the virus is being portrayed when college players who go out on the football field every day knowing that they could experience life-altering head trauma are unwilling to face an illness that in their age group is less serious than the flu.

By the Numbers

As expected, there was a slight post-weekend jump in the number of reported COVID-19 cases, with 53,344 reported in the U.S. in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 5.154 million.  There were 1,450 deaths were reported, for a total of 164,468.

Globally, there were more than 270,000 cases reported, for a grand total of 20.372 million infections since the coronavirus sprang became known.  The global death told jumped by more than 6,000 to 743,344.