The Republican National Convention, like the first day of school, is only weeks away. The GOP’s quadrennial confab, lustily anticipated by Donald Trump, may not quite be the top-shelf shindig he was hoping for, however. A whole slew of big-name Republicans are saying “Nope” to the invite. “Everybody just assumes no one is going,” says GOP Rep. Darin LaHood.
Why that assumption? Because COVID-19 is raging out of control in the South and West, and still lurks virtually everywhere else. The state of Florida, site of the GOP convention, is among the hottest COVID hotspots on the face of the Earth at the moment, with tens of thousands of new infections piling up over the last week. Spending four days in close quarters under these circumstances would be perilous in the extreme.
They are afraid to attend their own nominating convention, but they want to send your kids back to 180 days of close quarters in school buildings all across the country. They want to do this without having provided funds to school districts to prepare for this massive and dangerous undertaking, and with no national testing or tracing regimen in place. They want to do this in the middle of the current COVID firestorm, one that threatens to get worse. They want to do it to help Donald Trump win in November, period, end of file.
“In remarks Sunday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged schools to provide full-time, in-person learning in the fall even with community transmission of COVID-19 rising in many parts of the U.S., suggesting that there is no danger ‘in any way’ if kids are in school,” reported the Associated Press on Monday. “Her statement is unsupported. Some children have become seriously ill from the virus, and one of Trump’s top health experts stresses that data remain incomplete about potential risks they could spread COVID-19 to adults.” (Emphasis added.)
The hypocrisy is breathtaking, perhaps literally so if you’re a teacher who catches COVID in homeroom. Fortunately, the Trump administration’s permanent policy of brazen shamelessness is not having the desired effect.
California and Oregon have begun vigorously rolling back their reopening plans as COVID hammers those states. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner wants to shut the city down for two weeks to try and contain the exploding infection rate there. Philadelphia has canceled all large public events until the end of February 2021. In state after state and city after city, COVID has laid waste to the best-laid plans of mice and money, a trend that will only accelerate as the still-unreached pinnacle of this entirely avoidable infection spike goes right off the chart.
The Los Angeles and San Diego Unified school districts, which collectively educate more than 700,000 students, announced yesterday that the year would begin with remote learning at home. Students will return to the classrooms “as soon as public health conditions allow,” which under present circumstances could mean the entire year will be spent away from the classroom experience.
That decision may ultimately motivate the massive New York City school district to follow suit. New York remains on the far side of a brutal springtime outbreak that nearly brought the city to its knees, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is overseeing various plans to reopen schools with a wary eye on the rising national infection rate. “We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs,” said Cuomo during a Monday press briefing.
The known risk to children sent back to school remains scientifically uncertain, but ominous facts abound: This past Thursday, Texas announced that more than 550 children under the age of nine had been infected.
The potential for schools becoming a vector puts teachers and other school employees, parents, grandparents, older siblings and basically every school district in the country directly in the line of COVID fire. The public at large is aware of this, and a supermajority fear what may come: A new Axios/Ipsos poll on coronavirus and schools has 71 percent believing there is “either a large or moderate risk to their own health” if the kids, teachers and staff go back under the current circumstances.
As New York and California go, so may go the nation entire. Dozens of states are scrambling and failing to put the lid on an infection spike that came because many of those states opened too early at the behest of Trump and his Republican allies.
Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle dropped some pointed COVID wisdom last week. He was talking about the near-frantic push to reopen professional sports, but he may as well have been talking about reopening schools, and indeed the entire country, with matters as they stand.
“We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back,” Doolittle told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We’re trying to just bring it back, even though we’ve taken none of the steps to flatten the curve, whatever you want to say.”
From the mouths of babes and lefties. We as a nation have done little to bring schools back, to bring business back, to bring the country back. Trump and his people have made it harder to do these things with their lethal ineptitude, thoroughgoing disinterest and political cowardice. Nothing about the current situation will change unless and until various well-known steps are taken to bring COVID to some semblance of heel.
They won’t go to their convention, but your kid has to go to school… unless you’re in southern California, for openers. I suspect the wave of closures and restrictions will grow in the coming weeks, but until then, note the extremity of this most recent hypocrisy. GOP Senators Roy Blount and Pat Roberts are too precious to expose themselves to the virus. The children? Not so much.