Every time you think the Brothers Gibb have finally passed from the scene, another classic song is remembered because it perfectly captures the times we live in.
As the Omicron variant drives another surge in Covid-19 illness, reaching new highs daily, we who work in education keep looking for ways to stay alive. Just this week, Chicago teachers stayed home to force a switch to remote learning. The mayor and school system leaders met that move by locking them out of their online accounts.
New York City reopened with new protocols in place. With increased testing and revised quarantine rules, in which classroom children will be tested, not automatically sent home when a positive case is detected, officials believe they can, in the words of the new mayor, “normalize education” because “the virus is dictating that the safest place for children is in a school building.“
Teachers in other places, like southern California, routinely discuss on social media the measures their school systems are taking or not taking. Teachers from all over the country report on the increasing absence rates. This past week, 25% or higher is typical in many places. Speculation is rife as to whether or when schools will be forced to remote learning because too few are able to be or allowed in the building.
Stayin’ alive. It’s on everyone’s mind because when people are told that Omicron is more mild, few ever explain what that really means. The World Health Organization notes that calling it milder is misleading as its higher contagion is causing higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. No studies exist (how could they?) as to the long-term effects of an Omicron infection.
But never mind all that. Florida, under the intrepid or clueless governor, Ron DeSantis, and its surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, have got this:
- Testing is overrated. Seniors, of course, should get tested due to their vulnerability and perhaps a predilection to vote in more than one state. DeSantis is consistent in pandering to that demographic.
- No symptoms, no test. It’s unnecessary. Then again, those tests might reveal people have Covid and don’t know it. DeSantis says that’s not a problem. Those people should go to work and school not bothering to worry if they could still be spreading the virus. Bonus: the state’s case numbers will stop their exponential increase.
- Symptoms, don’t test. No really, don’t test if it won’t “alter the clinical outcome.“
Schools will remain open even as they are unable to require vaccination, mandate mask-wearing, or take any other common-sense public health measure to mitigate the spread. DeSantis saw to that in November with a special legislative session to pass the desired laws.
Schools remain constrained in their ability to purchase needed PPE, address ventilation, and find ways to help children learn because the governor is sitting on the federal aid. The reason? We might need it later.
Oh, Florida, how do you stay alive? When the Penguin is your governor, the Joker is your state official in charge of public health, and the Catwoman is the spox defending it all, what do you do? The Bat-signal is broken.
Wear a mask, get a test, and physically distance as much as you can.
We’re stayin’ alive!