But then I remember that Facebook is an evil company run by soulless, conscience-free technophiles, and they will happily make money any way they can until they are caught.
Unfortunately, these are not normal times. We are in still in the midst of a global pandemic, and we have done basically jack-shit as a nation to try to contain the spread of the virus.
When people say stuff like "The schools need to be re-opened," what I mostly hear is "I wish that things could go back to normal and the kids could be off at school and I don’t have to worry about it any more." I wish that too. I wish that working parents could do their jobs and not have to also somehow manage to facilitate learning for their kids. I wish that teachers and instructional assistants and the rest of the school staff were able to do their jobs and stay safe and healthy. I wish that parents, families, and caregivers could send their kids to school without the risk of rampant community spread of the virus.
We all want things to go back to normal. The problem is that things can’t go back to normal as long as the virus is spreading in the community. Trying to force things to go back to normal will only increase the community spread.
What we all need to keep in mind is that, until the spread of the coronavirus is drastically curtailed—which is not likely to happen for a few months at least—any kind of in-person learning that would not make a bunch more people sick is going to look nothing like what we imagine when we think of kids in school. Everyone in masks, no physical contact, no recess, breakfasts and lunches eaten only at desks, and constant cycles of new cases and quarantines… and that is assuming districts even have the staff, budget, and expertise necessary to adequately implement any of these safety measures. I would guess many do not.
Already, districts around the country that have tried to re-open with anything close to what we imagine when we think of kids in school are having to close because of outbreaks.
I’m no fan of online learning, and I am generally skeptical of "ed tech" in all of its forms. That said, I think a well thought-through digital curriculum plus regular and frequent live video meetings between teachers and kids (both 1:1 and in groups) will be better than the completely hobbled experience of even semi-safe in-person learning during the pandemic.
So please stop picturing what school looked like six months ago. That’s not what it will look like this fall, and probably not this spring, either. Stop wasting time and energy on crazy plans to get back to normal before we’re ready as a country to do that. Those solutions are off the table because we have not done the work as a country to control the spread of the virus, and so we are left with figuring out the least-bad solution.
The entire country needs to lock down again. The federal government needs to provide cash to individuals and small businesses to survive the six to eight weeks it will take.
It will suck, but probably not as much as it did the first time around (for those of us who actually did it, anyway), and it will leave us in a much better situation than our current never-ending limbo.
Rest assured that no matter how you respond, it won’t matter whatsoever. We’ll come up with a plan in consultation with an anonymous team of stakeholders, three renowned local astrologists, a haphazard compendium of tweets, and a seance that will be held over Zoom (please find the login and password on page 576 of the town bylaws). We will also hold a listening session in ten minutes, if anyone’s around. Expect a link to be emailed shortly; please check your spam.
We welcome your feedback! Stay well!
— Your School District
Despite its epochal effects, COVID‑19 is merely a harbinger of worse plagues to come. The U.S. cannot prepare for these inevitable crises if it returns to normal, as many of its people ache to do. Normal led to this. Normal was a world ever more prone to a pandemic but ever less ready for one. To avert another catastrophe, the U.S. needs to grapple with all the ways normal failed us. It needs a full accounting of every recent misstep and foundational sin, every unattended weakness and unheeded warning, every festering wound and reopened scar.
COVID-19 was always going to be bad, but it did not have to be this bad. There is another virus (probably more than one) out there that will be worse.
There are plenty of people, decisions, and policies that are to blamed—and should explicitly be blamed—for Our Current Situation, but none more so than (as Yong puts it) our “fealty to a dangerous strain of individualism.”
Yes, we all have our freedoms, but we live together and we need one another. This is not rocket science—it is a balance we have managed to figure out in a bunch of different places. Unfortunately, we now have a nontrivial slice of our society that holds a cartoonish notion of freedom.
I don’t know how we overcome this crazy idea that no one is responsible for anyone besides themselves, but we’re going to have to figure that out if we want to survive.
The problem is that we have to keep making the definition of “here” smaller and smaller. First it is the number of cases in the region, then in the state, then in the county, then in the city or town.
This is how the virus continues to spread. It’s why we are setting new records every day for the number of new infections.