As I read the many pages of our district’s back-to-school plans, I had only two questions in mind: How will you know if someone has the coronavirus? and Assuming the virus enters the school, because it will, how will you ensure that it is not transmitted to anyone else? The plan did not answer these questions.
I don’t think there is any How to answer those questions in light of the current state of evidence in our country. If everyone could get tested every day and you needed a negative test to enter the school building, then perhaps. But the truth is, kids and teachers will bring the virus to school, and no one will know until someone gets sick enough to go for a test, and wait for its results, and the test comes back positive and someone finally notifies to school.
People with the coronavirus can spread it before symptoms start to develop. Some people who have COVID-19 have a mild enough case that they never realize they are infected. In our current economy, with the threat of not going to school and not working if you have a positive COVID-19 test, I am sure that some people will suspect that they have the coronavirus, but avoid the tests in order to continue working or maintaining their children at school. Many, perhaps all, of the half-reopened plans for schools will be helpless against all of the above.
What a plan to keep the virus out would look like
Contrast that with the NBA bubble in Orlando. First, the league limited who was involved: They invited only a handful of teams, and players who are considered high risk will not play but will receive their full salary. Other players can choose not to participate, without payment but also without penalty. The league is also reducing the season to less than three months, to limit the amount of time players will have to spend in the bubble.
Players will not travel. Fans will not attend. Symptoms will be closely monitored, and there are strict rules on masks and spacing. But there is more. There are is:
Anyone entering the Orlando “bubble” must be quarantined for up to 48 hours until they register two negative COVID-19 tests. Any player leaving the bubble environment will be quarantined for up to 10 days after their return to Disney, and must register two negative tests and one antibody test before playing again.
Everyone in the bubble is tested every night, and the results come the next morning.
Several players tested positive before the bubbling began, and two tested positive upon arrival in Orlando. There have been no positives since. I doubt those are the last positives we’ll see this season, but at least the league will know when a positive result appears. and There is a clear plan on how to quarantine people.
When a plan breaks
Major League Baseball did not go for a bubble. Instead, teams travel as usual, and players are alone and are advised to “be careful”. They have a lot of evidence, but the evidence is not enough. Only four days into the season, the The Marlins have 11 cases between players. and they have canceled their first home game.
MLB necessary players to test negative before showing up for training. His plan calls for testing the players’ temperatures every day and detecting the virus every other day, with results delivered within 24 hours. Teams are alone to develop protocols to isolate players, track contacts, and determine what to do with high-risk players. There is no agreement on when a team should retire or when it should be scrapped all season; All those details remain in the air.
As the Washington Post points outThe plan’s skeleton mimics one successfully used by a German soccer league. But the soccer league had strict rules about how players were expected to protect themselves off the field. And they played in a country with a much lower prevalence of the virus than the United States. Meanwhile, baseball players constantly travel from city to city, many of them critical points of coronavirus.
What do we think will happen?
So far, it seems that the NBA bubble approach works better than the more flexible MLB guidelines. But both are far ahead of what schools with more people and less funding are expected to do.
No one requires my children to submit multiple negative tests before reporting to school. No one is paying for tests to be done on a daily basis, nor do they expect tests to return faster than others. Secure test results it takes an average of five days in our county, with many tests taking longer, and many people spending extra days trying to find a place to get tested. And we hope that COVID-19 does not spread through our schools?
I’m not saying that you want my son to be treated like a basketball player. In fact, I don’t think there is a way to replicate the NBA bubble for a school district, assuming the bubble even works.
And that’s why I’m pretty sure there will be cases and deaths in schools this year. Either that, or we will make it to September in this chicken game and the schools will finally admit that they cannot reopen for sure after all.
Schools must open in person for some parents to work and for some students to get the services they need. I do not claim to have an answer, nor do I know what the best approach is for our entire society. But I do know that we cannot separate what happens in schools from what happens elsewhere.
If we had spent the last four months making the community expand to a much lower level, as other countries have, there could be a sure way to do a limited reopening. If we had strengthened our testing infrastructure, we might be able to realistically require students and staff to test negative for entering school. But we didn’t, so we are caught in this mess. If team owners can’t keep COVID-19 under control for the sake of a season of making money, what hope do we have when lives are at stake?