Biden whiffs on reopening schools: I just want them to be safe

His talking points here are at least six months out of date. “I want schools to be safe” is something bland you say when the vaccine is still months away and you’re doing your best to balance teachers’ legit concerns about infection with students’ desperate need for in-class instruction.

When we’re six months on and the vaccine is available and teachers have been given priority to receive it, as they have in New York and other states, the proper response is: We need to do everything humanly possible now to get kids back to class before they miss another school year. We’re mitigating the risk to teachers by letting them cut the line for immunization. Now it’s their turn to do right by kids.

Why isn’t he saying that? Watch, then read on.

If I were a parent, I’d be verrrrrrry angry to learn that some teachers were being given access to a vaccine that I can’t get and/or that case counts locally are declining and they *still* refuse to educate my kids. And if I were president, I’d be keen to channel that anger. The fact that Sleepy Joe was equivocal about it is painful evidence that he’s serving his union benefactors here instead of parents.

Chicago Teachers Union members have voted to defy Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plans and continue working from home Monday because of health and safety concerns.

City officials had said in recent days they would view the collective refusal of in-person work as a strike, but in response to Sunday’s vote results said they will delay the scheduled return of thousands of teachers and staff until Wednesday “to ensure we have the time needed to resolve our discussions without risking disruption to student learning.”…

After a rough fall and early winter, coronavirus infection rates in Chicago have steadily fallen. The city’s test positivity rate is at 7.2%, and the seven-day average of daily confirmed cases is down to 629 — both the lowest since mid-October.

Robby Soave notes that Chicago decided to hire 2,000 new employees to assist kids in class due to the teacher shortage — and the union objected to that too. They don’t want to work, they don’t want to let others work, and of course they don’t want to let parents have their tax dollars back so that they can pay for private education for their kids.

It’s robbery, in other words. And the president is, at best, ambivalent about whether he’s on the side of the robbers or their victims.

Kids missed classroom instruction last spring. They missed it again this past fall. It seems inevitable that many will miss it again this coming spring. And, if you can believe it, there are rumblings that they might miss it this fall as well:

Given the seemingly intractable health and labor challenges, some district officials have begun to say out loud what was previously unthinkable: that schools may not be operating normally for the 2021-2022 school year. And some labor leaders are seeking to tamp down the expectations Mr. Biden’s words have raised.

“We don’t know whether a vaccine stops transmissibility,” said Randi Weingarten, the powerful president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest teachers union.

Start firing people, I don’t care who. Bring in scabs as needed. Because if parents don’t get in-class instruction for their kids after 18 months of remote learning and all the stunted development that entails, they’re going to be the next group to storm the Capitol.

This is how absurd it’s gotten:

I’m not going to write more about the specific case of Fairfax County since John has a post coming up about that, but maintaining remote learning after vaccination is the single most ruinous example of which I’m aware of people “underselling the vaccine.” The entire point of mass immunization is to restore normalcy. If teachers want to continue to wear masks this fall even after being vaccinated as a sort of security blanket or sacrifice to appease the angry COVID god, that’s fine. But they have to show up. The long layoff from class is doing incredible damage to kids, more than you might even know. The president to show meaningful leadership about it. If he wants to institute a new policy in which teachers are given priority for the vaccine alongside senior citizens in all 50 states, we could all learn to live with that as a compromise aimed at helping children. But he has to make in-class instruction the highest priority. Now.