I am married to a teacher. I have an education degree myself and have spent 30 years in and out of classrooms. I have four school age grandsons.
Not surprisingly, I take this directive from Betsy DeVoss and Donald J. Trump that schools must be fully operational by the Fall personally.
Trump claims that the keeping kids out of schools is a political decision made by Democrats to derail his reelection bid. Look, nobody needs to do anything to derail Trump’s reelection bid. He can manage all the damage to his campaign all by lonesome, thank you very much. Trump has never needed any outside help creating chaos. It follows him around wherever he goes like shit on a heel (which pretty much sums him up).
Opening schools is a political decision, Trump rails.
He is absolutely right about that.
Trump’s demand that schools across the nation open up and be fully functional by Fall is absolutely a political decision. He thinks that he has to get things back to normal so that he can convince the American people that he’s got a handle on everything and life is good under his administration.
To be honest, there’s a teensy part of me that wishes for Trump to have his way on everything. Open up the schools. Make everything fully functional. Don’t wear masks. Don’t take any precautions. Then let Trump suffer the consequences.
But here’s the thing with that teensy part of me that wants Trump to have his way: If we do what Trump demands, if schools are fully functional by fall across this nation, come hell or highwater, that’s exactly what will happen – hell and highwater.
You think 3 million infections is high? Open up the schools in September across this country and don’t plan or provide for precautions and that 3 million will hit 5 million, perhaps 6 million by November’s election. Children will get sick. Children will be hospitalized. Some will die.
And not just children, but educational staffs across this nation will be depleted by mid-October. Staff will get sick. Staff will be hospitalized. Some will die.
I can tell you right now I have no intention of doing any substitute teaching during the 2020-21 year. And prior to the pandemic, I could work almost everyday in this district filling in for sick teachers, or teachers in meetings, or coaches. I don’t know if I will ever go back into the classroom to teach full-time, but as sick as I got in March after working nearly everyday in February, I can assure you that the money I made didn’t begin to cover the hospital bills I accrued. Nor did it make up for the month of sickness I endured.
But while I will not be returning to the classroom, my husband will. Despite being retirement age, he continues to teach because he loves what he does and because like millions around this country we need the health insurance. This is one reason why Republicans don’t want universal health coverage. It has nothing to do with the cost. It’s because they fear that if American workers had universal health coverage people might not spend their entire lives working for the man. And they would be right about that.
But never again believe them when they say they can’t afford Social Security or universal health coverage for Americans because if their PPP “loans” prove anything, it’s that they have plenty of money to dole out to their wealthy friends. (Kanye West is using his millions in loan to build a new mansion in Wyoming where the taxes for the greedy is pretty much non-existent).
Nobody wants their kids to return to the classroom more than my three daughters who all have spent the past four months working from home and teaching their kids at the same time. As I told one daughter recently, I have never been in her situation. I have never worked from home and home-schooled kids. I have done both individually, but not both together.
My daughters, like millions of women, have been under enormous pressure as working moms. They have juggled lessons in geography and science in-between Zoom conference calls, developing spreadsheets, and editing video. They have worried about their children’s socialization and cognitive development, while also worrying about whether they would even have a job in a month. And, yes, they, too, have worried about health insurance during all of this.
They kept their children from us for months at a time, in order to protect us and them. They have forgone play dates and birthday parties to keep their children healthy. They have created events around the house and taken their children on explorations around the walking trails. They’ve found ways to keep their children challenged. And, yes, they have shed some tears over the lack of their own socialization, missing family and missing friends, missing going on vacations and evening dates with their husbands. They have prayed and they have fretted and then they have prayed some more.
One daughter recently had to return to work at the office, which meant putting one of the grandsons in daycare. She lives in one of the nation’s hotspots so there was reason to be concerned but she had faith in her daycare providers. That all changed rather quickly when she realized the provider was not following the state’s recommendations for masks, for washing hands, for sanitizing, or for socially distancing.
Recommendations, as Trump likes to point out, aren’t the same as requirements.
So my daughter was faced with a hard choice: Don’t make waves, or inquire as to what recommendations the provider would be following? Leave her child with this provider or do the hard thing of looking for another in a region where good daycare is always hard to find? Or risk the health of her child?
We have family members as I suspect you do who think this whole thing is a hoax. A conspiracy to put Trump out of office. As if the entire freaking world is on board with this conspiracy to get Trump out of office. As if those who have died globally were all willing to be a part of this global plan to unseat Trump. Like that isn’t crazy think.
We have loved ones who say it’s just the flu. It’s no big deal. Besides, we’ve overcome polio and tuberculosis and measles and yellow fever. What’s the big deal about this virus?
Yeah, well Mother Jones lost her entire family – four kids and her husband – in one week’s time to yellow fever, but I bet you anything if given her druthers, Mother Jones would have used a mosquito repellent throughout her house and yard and on each one of her family members if she had known that it was mosquitoes that were causing yellow fever. But she didn’t have that knowledge, or the cans of OFF to help save her family.
Let’s consider some stats, shall we? In 2018, the 4th leading cause of death in the US was respiratory illnesses. Heart disease was the number one cause, and cancer the second. Approximately, 160,000 people died from respiratory illness in 2018. About 40 people per 100,000 or about 5.6 percent of all deaths in the US. The flu, which Covid-deniers compare the virus to, was the 8th leading cause of death in 2018 in the US. A total of 59,120 people died of the flu in all of 2018. Or about 15 people per 100,000, at a rate of 2.1 percent.
I don’t care how bad you are at math, this isn’t hard to figure out. Currently, the US has over 3 million confirmed cases of Covid with 133,000 confirmed deaths over a five-month time frame. We lead the world in infections and in deaths.
Do you know why other nations aren’t seeing a rise in Covid cases and deaths?
It’s because they look out for each other. They follow the rules. They take the advice of health experts. They have universal healthcare. They don’t mess around. And they sure to hell aren’t politicizing it the way this administration is doing.
You know who won’t be sending their kids off to public schools come fall?
Donald J. Trump
Donald Trump Jr.
Mike and Karen Pence
Not a single one of their children has ever attended a crowded classroom.
Not a single one of their children have ever been in a situation where their health and welfare was not a top priority.
Thankfully, I live in a state where our governor has urged each district to come up with their own plans for reopening schools. Our governor cares first and foremost about keeping kids safe. And I know my daughters will do everything within their powers to keep our grandchildren healthy. Even if that means working from home and home-schooling throughout the 2020-21 school year. As for my husband, he will be wearing a mask even while teaching. Not just to protect himself, but to protect his students.
As for all you Covid-deniers, consider that the life you save might be your own. Or your child’s.
As for Trump’s hope that opening up the schools and pretending that everything is normal again, that is just delusional.
Like his bid for reelection.
Even if we woke up tomorrow and the virus miraculously disappears as he promised it would one day, Trump would still lose this election.
Americans are worn out with all of his chaos and lies.
Trump is literally killing us.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND (Mercer University Press).