When things are really bad, when there are no good choices, it seems that public officials and administrators are compelled to pretend otherwise.
The News-Post has provided comprehensive coverage of the school reopening controversy: everything from the shouting matches and number-slinging to officials who believe in their own truthiness.
A good high school English teacher could use two front-page articles from Jan. 28 to explore how language is used to prettify empty statements, confusion, half-truths, non-sequiturs and manipulation. With a bow to George Orwell, of course.
She might start with the much-abused word “metrics.” FCPS Superintendent Terry Alban, for example, says in one breath that the guidance numerical indicators provide should not be taken too literally. In the next breath, she says that the change from “trending upward” to “trending downwards” led her to feeling comfortable about bringing adults back into school buildings. That is terrible logic, pseudo-math, and bad for everyone’s health.
I won’t continue the lesson plan here, except to say that school board President Jay Mason deserves honorable mention. Let’s pass over his earlier “being efficient” dodge of the entire question of board rules and democratic procedures. Mr. Mason, honorably and sincerely, is ready to practice what he preaches and work as a substitute teacher. Please do not follow his example.
Here are two observations given short (or no shrift) by the various Albans, [Maryland Superintendent of Schools Karen] Salmons and [Gov.] Hogans:
1) Schools are safer than, say, bars or nursing homes — but this depends on the entire community following rigorous precautions. (cf. the CDC in a misleadingly headlined Washington Post article Jan. 26, based on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.)
2) Denmark. Their numbers are going down, but the infection rate of the British virus mutant is increasing exponentially. Their prime minister said that if they had not been sequencing all coronavirus samples, they would’ve had a false sense of security from the usual metrics. The U.S. is sequencing a tiny amount of samples.
Virtual learning is unfair, and somewhere between mediocre and garbage, particularly for younger kids. The pandemic does not take that into account. Two lousy choices, one of which is deadly.
Maryland and Frederick County leaders are under tremendous pressure. Their response has been to offer a fool’s paradise.
I support the Frederick County Teachers Association’s vote of no confidence for the superintendent and the school board.
The FCPS COVID metrics show that since September 2020 to date, there have been 206 COVID cases in the schools — 161 teachers and 45 students. The latest county figures are 15,239 cases (up 23 in the past 24 hours), 233 deaths (up one in the past 24 hours) and a [seven-day] positivity rate of 6.7 percent. The cases in the school metrics are from schools with reduced student populations. Imagine what could happen if you open schools to more students and teachers.
Our teachers and support staff have yet to be able to receive the vaccine, and there is no way of telling when they will. Not all of the groups have been able to receive vaccinations because there are not enough to handle the groups, thereby increasing the wait time.
Everyone thought that Jan. 20, 2021, and its outcome would save the country. Who knows, it might, but the reality is there are still problems getting the vaccine to people. Why rush to open schools and place our educators, support staff and children at risk? I know that virtual learning has its hardships for parents and teachers, but our teachers have stepped up to the challenge and are doing a great job.
Both have to rearrange their schedules so the children can be educated. I am sure teachers would love to go back to face-to-face education but only when it is safe for all. For those who are pushing for schools to reopen, do you really want to put the children, our teachers and the support staff at risk?
If only one child, one teacher, or one support staff comes down with this virus once school is reopened, can you say it was worth it? How about the worse scenario. Suppose we lose someone to this virus because we rushed to open schools. No, I am not in support of reopening schools, not until everyone has been vaccinated. I have no desire to put anyone at risk for this virus, especially the children.
Charles E. Hubbard