There is a struggle going on, and I can feel it. Most Americans can. It centers on schools, so anyone with school-age kids or is a school-age kid or has acquaintance of someone who is or has school-age kids has an opinion about opening schools. The prevailing notion seems to be much the same as it was with the previous regime: Open the schools and you open the economy. Moms and dads can go back to work if kids have a place to go. Keeping schools closed is creating more depression among young people and an economic depression among adults. Figuring out a way to make this work seems to be in the best interests of everyone involved.
But those darn teachers keep digging in their heels and saying, "not yet." Those darn teachers are still not sold on the idea that going back to in-person instruction solves a problem for them. While there have been quantum reassurances that children are less likely to carry or pass on the COVID-19 virus, there are still so very many asterisks and variants in the data that suggest that there is still something of a crap shoot when it comes to just exactly who is at risk to exactly what. This strain, that strain, asymptomatic carriers and tests that still manage to miss some positive cases.
"Do it for the good of the country." comes the suggestion from a loud group protected by masks and social distancing. Can I imagine a school full of five to twelve year olds walking in formation and respecting all the protocols required to keep everyone safe? Yes I can. I can also imagine a world where teachers are not viewed as slackers who only work a few hours a day and take three months off a year to visit their time shares in the Bahamas. I can imagine a lot of things. Like I can imagine a reality in which there wasn't a debate about to whom and when and where vaccinations would be doled out. Oregon's governor got quite the blowback for prioritizing teachers in her plan, the one that hoped to get Oregon's teachers and seniors inoculated by May 2.
California's governor has a similar plan. It will be rolled out in mid-February. And if the goal is to get all those darn teachers vaccinated before the end of the school year, then the other end of this supply chain needs to be examined. Doses of available medicine to make all this magic work seem to be of limited supply, and even if they happen with startling efficiency, there is the matter of the month between shots. If, for example, yours truly were to get his first shot right around Valentine's Day (mid-February) it would not be until Saint Patrick's Day (mid-March) before I would be fully immunized. This leaves two and a half months to get yours truly back in a classroom surrounded by what we assume is a smaller than normal cohort of non-vaccinated kids, who will be returning at the end of each day to parents who are likely less-than-vaccinated. In the meantime, recess, trips to the bathroom, lunchtime and simple movement around the classroom will all have to be carefully monitored in order to limit contact and possible contagion.
I can imagine that working. It should also be noted that I have, at times, imagined taking my flying car to work. That is to say that I am enthusiastic about returning to in-person learning because it is what we all know best. Distance learning has been a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. Kids don't learn as well on Zoom. They don't socialize or experience the world as they need to.
However I will say this without any reservations: None of this is worth dying for. Stay tuned.