Covid Journal, August 12, 2020
Back to School Based on Flawed Data
Ontario felt it was safe to open middle and elementary grades without cutting class sizes to improve physical separation.
I have reviewed the same evidence as the SickKids document and have come to different conclusions. Reading the source references suggests most of the evidence about transmission in children is anecdotal or based on modelling.
Aggregation of poor evidence into a meta-analysis does not improve the quality of the evidence. The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”
Teachers should be considered no differently than pediatricians or family doctors. Whatever protective measures are being used for these non-hospital health-care workers should be in place for teachers as well. This includes effective PPE and physical distancing as well as all of the 16 risk mitigation strategies on page 7 of the SickKids report.
Spending money now to implement all the known risk mitigation tactics is far less costly than a second lockdown. School opening should use every possible preventive measure. We’ll look like fools if a second wave occurs and we didn’t.
Here’s an idea: we’ve been on hold this long, what’s another semester?
I know … I’m torn on that one … people want to get back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible, but ‘normal’ isn’t any more, so maybe we just need more time to catch up to our priorities. Of course, the other challenge with holding things off is that so many people – especially women – are dependent on schools as a support system to help them earn an economic existence.
Hmmm … kill my kid or put food on the table? Or maybe go back to my wife-beating husband so I can do both?
And then the other cohort of people toss up their hands and say ‘how will we ever afford the costs of smaller cohorts, more teachers or more classrooms’.
My answer is WE DO. We can stop funding universities. We can stop funding FOUR times the number of school boards we need across the province (ie. Catholic, French, French Catholic all in addition to the English school boards). We can cancel the environmentally destructive and soul destroying proposed highway 413 project.
There are LOTS of ways we can make it happen, without even being creative about it.
Let’s just NOT throw our kids under the proverbial, literal and figurative buses.
By the way, if you want to know why I’m pissed about this and wants answers FOUR MONTHS AGO, check out this excellent article with Toronto Life magazine about why everything that’s happened to this point is an unmitigated disaster. Starting with Stephen Lecce, the 33 year-old private-school educated non-parent who’s running the Ministry of Education.
Given the concerns related to ham-fisted planning and using kids as bargaining chips, it’s not much of a stretch of the imagination why ‘homeschooling’ is enjoying a bit of a rennaissance.
Realistically, I don’t feel that homeschooling is the best option, but it’s looking more and more like it will be the only option because school boards and the Minister / Premier can’t get off their collective asses and do something to boost the confidence of parents.
The sad reality is that as parents learn to take care of their kids, the core definition of ‘public education’ will be eroded quicker than a sand castle in a tsunami. This has wide-reaching implications for so many people, primarily because we’re going to net out with a multi-tier educational system and various degrees of ‘quality’ for kids coming out of home-based elementary or high-school programs.