Covid School Year Three

Today’s latest piece at CNN comes from a simple observation, but not one I’ve seen made often: This is actually the third school year impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. And it doesn’t feel like we have a real plan.

Throughout, I’ve been pushing (in various essays, tweets, calls with school admin, and more) for educational institutions to make plans for Covid 6 months out. In March 2020, I advocated just canceling the school year and planning for August. It didn’t happen, and so when August rolled around we really didn’t have a plan – especially for our son and his IEP – until just days before the semester started. In August, I hoped we could plan for January. In January, I hoped we could plan for now – but at least this time I understand the magical thinking around vaccines. Sadly, there was no magic, and covid is with us.

Honestly, and I’ll write more about this another time perhaps, the SARS-Cov-2 virus is with us forever. The goal now is to use vaccination, testing, treatment, distancing, and masking to make it endemic and limit its ability to disable or kill the people it infects. We have these amazing tools and so much knowledge, but it only helps if we use them.

Back to school: I want a plan that is structured and based on hard data rather than whims of the moment. As follows:

Start cautiously. Only roll back precautions when vaccination rates rise and infections fall to a predetermined level. Don’t make the shifting of modalities (online vs remote, full time vs partial, mandatory masking vs option) a decision in each instance, but set the standards and let districts or counties hit the levels or not. Before, we’ve been reactive each step along the way, always making choices about the crisis that’s just hit (or honestly hit weeks ago – it’s not like the current Delta wave wasn’t in progress all July).

Magical thinking is so much nicer, to be honest, but hard to keep up when your whole family has gotten breakthrough Covid.

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