Well, June was nice, I guess. Now July 4 has come and gone and that means it is officially ‘back to school’ time. If we were allowed to go into any stores, we would see all the sales on trapper keepers, boxes of pencils and glue sticks. I know, I know – we can still stock up at Target, but that’s not the real question. The real question is what happens in the fall? Will the kids go back to school?
Well, POTUS has certainly weighed in, and his sycophantic legions have jumped like well-trained seals to clap and encourage Trump’s directive. All the kids need be back in school in the fall. COVID-19 be damned, apparently.
Speaking of sycophants, I’m impressed with the week Tucker Carlson has had. Just in the past few days I see that David Duke wants Carlson to replace Pence as VP on the ticket, mainstream news is running stories about Carlson running for President in 2024, and he is said to have significant influence on Trump himself, though I imagine that could change at any moment. And all this love came AFTER he said that Senator Tammy Duckworth hates America. That’s the same Senator Duckworth who became a double amputee and Purple Heart recipient while serving in the armed forces of (checks notes) America.
But I digress. Tucker and Fox News have been pushing a narrative that roughly lines up with Trump’s magical thinking that the pandemic just isn’t that bad. Also, since children die A LOT less often, sending them back to school is a great idea, right? Let’s not worry about the way in which those children can ALL serve as asymptomatic carriers, bringing the virus back to older and more at-risk people that live with them. Let’s also not bother to discuss the teachers and staff members who are at a much higher risk than the children. They need to be WARRIORS, or human sacrifice, depending on how you look at it.
Look. Everyone wants the kids back in school. It may be the only thing about which Trump and I agree. And there is a clear way to make that happen – reduce the amount of virus in the environment. That’s a slight oversimplification, but it also happens to be true. If there is not a lot of virus around, you can “get away with” a lot more “normal” behavior, like kids congregating in schools for most of the day.
But, as ever, Trump has no idea what he’s doing. He’s like the kid who has blown off his homework all semester, and now, on the morning of the final exam, he decides it may be helpful to start studying.
He’s doing his bluster routine and his CEO routine and his tough guy routine and it’s all getting very stale. He has told the states that school opening must be accomplished and it is up to them to figure out how to do it. If it works, the economy recovers and he gets reelected. If it doesn’t work, not Trump’s fault. This type of maneuvering has now been committed to muscle memory. It’s just instinctive.
But, as Trump’s apparent influence over the country and the Republican Party begins to wane, I expect that his admonitions will matter less and less. The real answer would be to shut down hard for the next two months and just kill off the virus. Then you can open schools, maybe a little later than usual, but it could happen.
Without testing, however, it’s not so easy. We will certainly learn that testing capacity was intentionally stifled in the name of “better numbers.” And now we are so far behind, that we have only the vaguest idea of where exactly the virus is and isn’t. Plus no one is staying home any more, so the virus will continue to spread. It’s not hard to understand.
What is hard to understand is the magical thinking that must be necessary for anyone to believe schools should be opening in the fall.