Drafting education workers into combat -- without war games, with very little equipment, with slashed funding, and with no real leadership above the school level
A 2018 study by the Rand Corporation showed from 2001-2015, 2.77 million U.S. military personnel served on 5.4 million deployments across the world as part of the "Global War on Terror." Total U.S. military deaths in those years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are 6,729. Add in other deaths related to operations in other theaters, and you get about 7,000 deaths.
That's a Global War on Terror Combat US military death rate of .25 percent -- a quarter of a percentage point.
Florida's official COVID death rate is 8X the War on Terror Death rate
By comparison, the state of Florida says that death rate from COVID is 2 percent.
As I've said many times, I don't trust Florida state government's use of data in anything. But this is what your state government says about fatality and hospitalization rates. It's what I have to go on. Go see for yourself at this link. Indeed, more Floridians have already died from COVID than US military personnel in the entirety of the Global War on Terror.
Let me write that again: again, .25% War on Terror death rate. 2% COVID death rate. Two percent is an 800 percent higher rate than .25%. The COVID death rate is 8X time higher than the U.S. military death rate in the Global War on Terror.
So even if you adjust down to account for age, it's clear that a massive "Big Bang" school opening is the COVID risk equivalent of a massive military operation, with comparable levels of statistical danger.
Imagine your son or daughter taking part in a battle planned this callously
The US has an all-volunteer military that is the best funded, equipped, and supported in the world. It is inconceivable that even this all-volunteer military would be ordered by any president or general into a major invasion or operation for which it had not planned or war-gamed above the Company level -- or for which the generals or Congress had slashed its budget for execution out of spite.
Imagine what you would think if your son or daughter was ordered into a massive invasion with those circumstances. And with no combat pay.
And yet, that's precisely what is happening in Florida and Polk County for a largely conscripted education work force. (Remember, the state "generals" just stole $9 million in recurring operational money with the FRS Heist for vague long-term pension cost projections that the state could easily cover.)
The current Polk County "invasion plan," which is designed entirely to comply with the "invasion" plan imposed by the state grifters pretending to be generals, is to bring 50,000 or so kids and 4,000-6,000 or more adults into confined spaces all at once on August 24 in Polk County. It is hard for me to imagine a more dangerous operation in the COVID era than a massive, "Big Bang" opening of schools with Polk County's viral profile -- both for the participants in the operation and for the community as a whole.
Every indication is that large number of kids and adults will walk into those buildings with COVID on Day 1; and many, if not most, of these staff members have been drafted into this combat-level risk situation. Period.
Education at scale is among the most dangerous COVID behaviors, unfortunately
Everything we know about COVID suggests that spending 7 hours per day in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces with dozens of children and adults is about as dangerous a job as is possible in the COVID era.
Even bars generally offer greater distance between bartender/waiter and patrons than classrooms do. Warehouses and grocery stores offer greater opportunity for spacing and protection. They also offer much more fleeting contact with the public. And still, all of them, all essential workers, should be receiving hazard pay from the Federal Reserve, the same way all private wealth is being preserved by the $7 trillion the Federal Reserve and federal government have already committed in order to protect the wealthiest among us.
Other than church choir director, factory farm worker, or maybe corrections officer, I can't imagine any job as dangerous and liable to contract and spread COVID than a middle or high school teacher or school administrator -- because of the nature of middle/high school behaviors and the nature of COVID spread. (It remains unclear to me if our education workers are expected to engage and break up fights between students, for instance.) Elementary isn't that far behind.
Indeed, the high school in Georgia that became famous for opening up and jamming kids into hallways without masks, is now closing again. Perhaps it reopens; perhaps not.
The Margin: Students get suspended for posting pics of crowded halls — now the school's closing after 9 people were infected: Last week, pictures of maskless students crowding the hall of Georgia's freshly reopened North Paulding High School went vir.. https://t.co/G0ll9vvBGH
— Top U.S. & World News🗽 (@USRealityCheck) August 9, 2020
To state the obvious, no Publix or Wal-Mart has looked like that picture. Very few bars have. That's what combat looks like in the COVID world, as the immediate casualties and failure of the operation demonstrate. Is this what you want if you want in-person schooling? Do you think this is somehow sustainable at scale?
If everybody gets it in Polk schools...how many die? Ten, 100?
The pediatrician called into to consult with the Polk District said at a recent meeting that he basically expects all school staff eventually to get infected with coronavirus. Full article and background link here. He said:
Look, there’s going to be a gradual rate of people getting infected over the next two years. As long as there is sufficient staff to keep the building open, to keep the kids safe, to keep the educational process going; as long as there are rooms in our hospitals to provide care for people who get very sick, I think we’re gonna have to march on ahead because we can’t stop schools for two years.
Let's stipulate that kids, especially young kids, are under less personal risk even though they are clearly shown to be spreaders now. Let's just focus on the adults working around those 50,000 kids in confined spaces.
If we estimate that roughly 5,000 adults and 50,000 kids return all at once to in-person schooling on August 24, how gradual will the rate of infection be? And what is 2 percent of 5,000? 100. What's 6 percent, the hospitalization rate? 300.
It's true that we likely need to adjust the rates downward somewhat to account for age, etc. (although mass viral load drives it back up). But even reduce it by a factor of 10: Ten dead staff members? Thirty hospitalized? Is that unlikely? Are you fine with that? I'm not.
Big Bang: a mindless operational "plan" carried out by a drafted force
Gov. DeSantis said clearly that education workers with health conditions or who are uncomfortable teaching fact-to-face in a pandemic setting should be given remote options.
But believe me when I tell you that people with health conditions are being coerced. I heard a coercion story last night from a woman with one kidney.
And here's just one example of more general conscription, of many, from a teacher who is also a parent. She is in Board Member Sara Beth Reynolds' district:
I changed my preference to elearning. Got my schedule today and have six in person classes, although four of them also have elearning sections at the same time.
This is repeating itself across Florida and Polk; but I single out Sara Beth Reynolds because she is the Polk board member most gung ho to draft Polk's education workers into combat-level risk in a Big Bang opening. Make no mistake: that is the level of situational risk the insane "Big Bang" approach creates. I also single out Sara Beth Reynolds because Winter Haven Hospital is under great duress treating COVID patients. I wonder how Sara Beth thinks a "Big Bang" school opening is going to help her home hospital.
A "Big Bang" opening is the most operationally-stupid conceivable way to try to provide in-person schooling. Indeed, Polk's neighbors in Hillsborough County schools and Lake Wales Charter Schools have already rejected a Big Bang approach to opening. Unelected Education Grifter Richard Corcoran wants to overturn Hillsborough's decision. We'll see if he can.
Start small, with the youngest and neediest, and grow carefully. Expand as viral prevalence subsides in the community
I have proposed an alternative -- a staggered, careful start that could give us a chance to succeed by starting with the youngest and neediest kids first.
It would start with using true volunteer adults -- of which there are many. Please see this video for fuller discussion:
A Big Bang is bad for everybody -- no matter your politics or personal interests
I oppose a "Big Bang" opening on August 24 because math tells me it may kill a child and will almost certainly kill numerous Polk School District staff members over time -- anywhere from 10 to 50 is the range in my head.
I oppose a Big Bang because I expect it to shut down in-person schooling very quickly, as it already has in that Georgia district.
I oppose a Big Bang because it will lead to vulnerable children taking COVID home to communities already ravaged by it to kill and maim more people.
I oppose a Big Bang because it is likely to become "bars on steroids" and relaunch another wave of COVID in Polk County before this one has subsided.
Literally no one has offered any meaningful counterpoint to this perception of the risks created by the scale of public education. Literally no one has said why it's bad to try a carefully staggered start, like other countries did, with much better viral profiles.
Literally no one has said what we have to lose by starting slowly and carefully. No one has said what we gain by doing it all at once.
Again, my personal election is such a trivial thing compared to the considerations I just cited that they don't even belong on the same scale.
Preparing -- largely on their own -- for a war they didn't freely enlist for
I visited a school this week. And I saw an administrative staff -- and few teachers volunteering outside contract -- preparing for war.
Everyone was masked, which I was pleased to see. But it was also clear that all preparations were school-based. The district has a principal's guide to COVID preparations; but responsibility for deployment of those abstractions into reality falls on the men and women leading schools.
The vacuum of leadership responsibility at all levels is appalling. Under orders from "General" Ron DeSantis and "General" Richard Corcoran, our "colonels" here in Polk are conscripting large numbers of middle aged men and women to their possible deaths.
Generals DeSantis and Corcoran do not care about the outcome of the operation, nor do they care about casualties. Indeed, they have told the people who should be leading the response -- local health department officials like Dr. Joy Jackson -- to shut up and drive the drafted into combat. Full story here. Most of you have already seen it.
So far, people like Dr. Jackson have chosen the safety of their careers over your safety and that of your loved ones. We'll see if that continues.
I do care about the health and well-being of our kids, wherever they come from. I do care about the people who work to serve our kids. I do care about the public health of everyone in my community -- not just people with wealth and power. I do care about my fellow citizens. And we'll be discussing all of this on Tuesday in great depth.