Only 12.4% of school principals say they are “extremely confident” in their school or district’s ability to “preserve the health of staff and students” if school opens in the fall, according to a survey released this week by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Another 22.8% felt “somewhat confident.”

Imagine the delight of parents and teachers upon learning that their school principal is “somewhat confident” of keeping disease and death at bay. Now consider that the majority of principals can’t muster even that lukewarm endorsement. More than a third of the 1,450 principals who responded to the survey reported feeling “somewhat unconfident” or “not at all confident.”

Principals are also wary of the politics of Covid-19. “My fear is that the public will be looking at each measure as a political statement, and some will ignore the advice of health officials in regards to their kids just to prove a point,” one respondent said. “I’m not looking forward to arguing with those who don’t take this seriously,” another said. And there are practical problems for which there are no real answers: “How do you tell a four-year old to social distance?” one principal asked.