Monday, January 10, 2022

How To Stay Open

My Uncle Frank, about whom I've written about before, recently suffered a stroke. He spent a couple of days at the hospital on a gurney, rather than on a bed in a room, because those beds were filled with unvaxed freedom fighters, presumably none of whom were saying, "Don't give me any of your life-saving medicines or treatments, because I don't know exactly what's in them." 

While I'm generally pretty good at remaining open to different viewpoints, I'm about done with anti-vaxers. I am sympathetic to the folks who have legitimate medical reasons to avoid the covid vaccine, even as I'm pretty sure that "religious objection" folks are just making shit up.

The lack of will surrounding the opening of schools is staggering. From districts that don't really have any policies and procedures in place yet, to those that think that having talked about them is as good as having actually done something.

I was reminded yet again last night as I sat at an organizational meeting for directors in local community theater. It was such a stark contrast with what we're seeing in schools.

First, the theater started with a basic premise--they want to stay open and put on shows.

From there, they went to some pretty simple policies.

Everyone in a show this season must be vaxed-- cast, crew, everyone. If they won't do that, they must be tested weekly. If they won't do either, they can just stay home. Also, everyone masks.

Meanwhile, the theater has an HVAC system that completely replaces all the air in the place about every 30 minutes. 

And if people are feeling kind of covidy, they are to stay home until they know one way or the other.

Of course this isn't perfect. People who don't drink before they drive sometimes have accidents. People who wear seat belts are sometimes injured or killed. But these steps improve your odds. 

The key is, I think, knowing your objective. Notice that the theater objective is not "make sure people who have political objections to mitigation methods don't feel put out." The one conce3ssion the theater has made is not to take the step most other live theaters have--requiring proof of vaccination to sit in the audience. 

The goal is to stay open. The goal is to mitigate the spread within the place so that critical personnel are not lost to illness, thereby putting the whole operation at risk of being unable to continue. 

Do these goals sound familiar?

There is much about the US response to COVID that I will never really understand, but high on the list will be the huge disconnect on re-opening schools. 

Folks really, really, really want schools to be open in person again. They have had two years to figure out what it would take to do that. In some cases they have spent the two years just kind of wishing hard. In some case, they have spent the two years figuring it out, but now that it's time to implement some of that, they're just going to not. In some too few cases, they even used the time to figure out how to do a better job if a school had to go remote. And in some cases they're going to be shocked and angry that teachers don't want to get back to it without any serious safeguards in place.

Vaccine mandates are somehow an intolerable act against human freedom, even though we already mandate an assortment of vaccines for school attendance. 

It is a reminder, once again, that we just aren't a serious people. We aren't serious about education in general. We aren't serious about gun deaths, and we aren't serious about dealing with COVID. We aren't serious about getting and keeping schools open safely, and we aren't serious about recognizing that in some cities, under some conditions, we can't have it just because we want it.

Somewhere along the way we also loss our pragmatism, becoming far less interested in getting the job done and more interested in Being Right or Making Our Point. So we end up with schools closed or open uselessly, even though we know plenty about what it would take to get it done right.

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