School Opening BS

By August 3, 2020 Commentary

Our Weasel in Chief, the Dictator of our lives, has issued his order on what will happen with schools in Minnesota this fall.  Before we get to that, lets cover three pertinent studies, one an absolute atrocity, and a tweet from Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams.  In regard to school openings, Adams wrote:  “Most of our national problems (unemployment, poverty, systemic racism, closed schools, uptick in suicide, crime, drugs, TDS) are caused by Teachers Unions limiting school choice.  Until all of us can say that in public without getting cancelled, we are totally f***ed as a country.”  Amen.

This study, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics journal is a joke.  I am shocked that peer review and just editorial good sense is allowing this kind of crap to be published.  (JAMA Article)  The authors purport to show that closing schools reduced cases.  They made no effort to disentangle the effects of all the other actions, like closing businesses and issuing stay-at-home orders at the same time.  They ignored the rarity of cases among children at all.  They ignored the fact that when children do get infected, it is most typically from an adult in their household.  They are safer at school, as New Zealand just showed in a study.  And again, this is one of those pathetic modeling studies in which the researchers set a parameter saying if you close schools there will be less cases, and of course that is what the model reported.  This is inexcusable to publish.  Given the significance of the decision to get children back to school and the overwhelming evidence from around the world that there is no risk to anyone from children being at school, it is shoddy peer review at best, if any occurred other than by a teachers’ union, for JAMA to publish this study.  At least JAMA also published an editorial, in much gentler language than I would use, saying you shouldn’t trust this study.   (JAMA Editorial)  That editorial recognizes the enormous harm done to children, parents and society from closing schools.

On the other hand, here is a study from Finland looking at some specific transmission issues involving school children.  (Medrxiv Paper)   In the first instance the index case was a student.  Doing contact tracing and testing, not one of 89 contacts tested positive.  In the second case, a school staff member was the index case, and here 7 pupils and another staff member were infected.   This is exactly like the Swiss study in a similar situation with a child.  Understand this:  not one transmission from the child to other children or adults.  The adult staff person did transmit to other people, including children.

Here is the public health agency of Canada doing a review of the risks in regard to students and schools and day cares.  Now here is some real science, Mr. Dictator.  (Canada Review)   The researchers found that children are not a major source of transmission.  An analysis of infection clusters where children were infected found that they were not getting infected from other children, but were infected in community settings or at home.  In household clusters, the adults were the index case, not children.  The study lists and reviews all the research, most of which I have summarized here.

So let me just say, I have read every study that bears on children and students and their risk of illness and their risk of transmission.  There is no meaningful risk at all.   And country after country has either continued to have children go to school or sent them back with absolutely no issues.

Now to Minnesota.  The Dictator and his Brigade of Incompetents spent an hour and a half saying nothing definitive.  The Dictator has his usual filibustering diarrhea of the mouth.  He talked what “we” lost with schools closed and “we” gave up. “We” didn’t lose or give up anything.  He ordered the schools closed for no good reason–he had no data or evidence to justify doing that, and he should have reversed his order when the low risk of children becoming ill or transmitting the disease became even more apparent.  Other countries have opened schools with no issues. Sweden never sent younger students home and had no issues at all.  On the other hand, keeping kids home endangers many of them, especially low-income and minority children.  Not only do they not get educated, they get abused more, they don’t get nutrition, they feel isolated and anxious.  So he is full of crap as usual when he talks about balance and data and science.

Peggy Flanagan is, simply put, an idiot.  She can barely string a thought together and I wouldn’t trust her to be involved in anything.  An example is that she described the plan as “thoughtful and nuanced”.  How about incomprehensible.  The so-called “safe learning” model should be referred to as the no-learning, no certainty model.  The Commissioner of Education had more platitudes than a retirement dinner speech, which would be a good idea for this whole administration, a retirement celebration.  Mike Osterholm was mentioned as a key advisor–he doesn’t seem to know his head from his hiney in regard to this epidemic, just clueless on basic research and facts.

The Dictator basically dumped the responsibility on local school districts but with some ridiculously rigid rules.  And because the Dictator is a wholly–owned subsidiary of the teachers’ and state employees’ unions, of course if teachers want to they can just opt to teach remotely.  How the hell will that work?  I am going to point this out again–there is not one documented cases of a student infecting a teacher.   The Commissioner of Health, who should know better, completely mis-stated the South Korea study, the only research mentioned, using it to justify treating secondary students different from elementary ones, and completely failed to note that that study did not involve contact-tracing and did not show direction of transmission.  What it did show, as have many other studies, including a recent one from New Zealand, was that children are at more risk of infection in their homes than in their schools.

The plan, among other things, is fundamentally racist.  It deprives minority students of any reasonable opportunity to learn and keeps many of them in unsafe environments.  The minority students are the ones most likely to be subjected to distance “learning”, also known as hooky time, under the Dictator’s absurd rules.  Minneapolis, a joke of a city at this point, has already opted for distance learning indefinitely.   It is a pipe dream that there is any way this plan works for them.  So we know the Dictator’s priority is keeping the teachers’ union happy over making sure that minorities have an opportunity for good lives, even at this time when we are supposedly so focused on eliminating the mythical systemic racism.  The only good thing is that the public schools can’t deliver a decent education in any event and are more focussed on creating social justice warriors than actually preparing students for a meaningful job, so at least students won’t be subjected to that.  I think this may finally be what breaks the teachers’ unions and forces vouchers and school choice for all, especially minorities.   Meanwhile, the income gap will grow, because wealthy people will send their children to private schools which aren’t subjected to these moronic rules.   And not one word about the burden on working parents from this ludicrously fluid “plan”.

It is dangerous and unnecessary for students to be forced to wear masks or face shields or engage in excessive social distancing.  This may cause infections and it may cause other health issues.  It also may inhibit the normal development of immune systems so critical to young children in particular.  Mark my words, influenza is dangerous to children and we are setting ourselves up for an atrocious flu season and if that happens, parents should sue the hell out of the Dictator and their local schools for not being able to recognize the low risk of coronavirus and the far higher risk of flu.

The bottom line–once again the Dictator is ignoring the science and the data, kowtowing to teachers’ unions, ignoring the best interests of students, creating a bureaucratic nightmare and lying to Minnesotans to justify one more pathetically inadequate response to the epidemic.

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