Rumblings: Teachers union head, Fed chair hint that schools might not reopen on schedule

I’ve said it before, but once again for emphasis: If you have school-aged kids and you live in a blue state, you’re courting disaster by not moving before the fall semester. Which is now only a month or so away.

It shouldn’t be a question at this point that schools will reopen come hell or high water. The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed it, the CDC has endorsed it, even AFT President Randi Weingarten has endorsed it — conditionally, depending on whether enough precautions are taken to keep teachers (and students, but mostly teachers) safe.

Well, all people aged 12 and up are eligible for vaccination and the CDC has recommended masks for all students this fall regardless. That’s a lot of precaution. So what’s the language here about “trying” to reopen about?

Like Yoda says: Do or do not. There is no “try.”

We expect that sort of weaselly hedging from Weingarten. But what the hell’s gotten into Jay Powell?

“As vaccinations rise we can nonetheless get back to our economic activity,” he added. That’s why it’s imperative that people around the world get their shots.

The Delta variant likely won’t bring about another significant lockdown, Powell said, but “you could imagine school districts to wait a month or two” to open, he said.

What?

How is delaying reopening schools by several months remotely within the Overton window given that as recently as yesterday, in announcing the new national mask guidance, the CDC reiterated that kids need to be back in class this fall?

Almost as surprising as Powell sounding unreasonable was Andrew Cuomo stepping in as an unlikely voice of reason:

That’s the way to make sure schools can reopen on time with the most vulnerable people inside the building, adults, fully protected. Cuomo sounded nutty today when he described schools as potential super-spreader hot spots — infection rates among kids say otherwise — but to the extent that the concern is well-founded, the solution is to force school staff to get their shots as a condition of employment.

So why are Weingarten and her union resisting it?

Matt Welch has two kids in school in New York City and is irate at the new CDC guidance demanding that they mask up this fall. It’s not just the masking that’s bad, Welch points out. It’s the fact that any move made at this point to raise anxiety about COVID transmissions in class is destined to embolden the cause of closing schools down again:

If the past is in any guide, this latest ratcheting up of classroom-infectiousness fear will encourage public schools to not open but close, particularly in the most restrictive districts, which have tended to be the most Democratic-leaning politically. When the CDC in mid-February shocked epidemiologists (and pleasured teachers unions) by keeping its global outlier of a school social-distancing recommendation at an average of 6 feet between humans, multiple school boards in blue polities responded by suspending plans to reopen…

[N]ot only is the potential [of masking] upside greatly exaggerated, the downside is heavily discounted, and inflicted on people with the least political power. My 6-year-old daughter has been wearing masks in school settings now for 20 percent of her life. Young kids rely on facial recognition for all kinds of early childhood development and basic social competence. Most of the developed world has not been masking elementary school children, in recognition of both the limited benefits and developmental costs.

“This is irrational restrictionism, inflicted on a population that has suffered the most from COVID policy while suffering the least from COVID,” he says of the masking guidance. It would be bad enough if masking were the price of getting kids back to class, as needless as it is, but at least then there’d be a payoff. If Welch is right that the guidance raises public alarm about in-class instruction then the result may be no school at all. Again.

I’ll leave you with Fauci’s latest soundbite. It’s a doozy.