Are the State of Ohio and Local School Districts Playing Russian Roulette with Staff and Students?
(Note: I’m going off my normal topic of small business finances with this post to a topic that is very timely and of great interest to me right now. My wife and many friends are educators)
I’m trying really, really hard to understand.
Can someone please help me?
Please help me understand the following…
THIS MAKES NO SENSE
In April 2020, the State of #Ohio ordered schools closed and a move to full remote learning due to a surge in Covid.
As we reach the midpoint of November 2020, the State of #Ohio has since pushed the decision-making for in-person vs. remote learning to the local school districts.
As of today, a large majority are still offering in-person learning.
Viewing things in picture form, here’s what Covid-19 looks like in #Ohio from early March through Saturday, November 14, 2020 (thank you @wkyc for the graphic):
COMMON SENSE – DID IT LEAVE THE BUILDING?
For those districts with the common sense and foresight to have already made the call returning to remote learning while this blows over…
Thank you! Thank you!
For those districts that seem to be less enlightened and appear to be hiding behind the “our COVID-19 case numbers remain low” perspective, let’s take a closer look at what it looks like within #Ohio right now:
- 100% of the counties (88 of 88) are reporting High Incidence of Spread within their communities
- Nearly 80% (70 of 88) are in the Level 3 Public Emergency: “Very high exposure and spread. Limit activities as much as possible”
- @GovMikeDeWine had this to say:
The State of Ohio is on fire with Covid right now.
I ask once again, can someone please help me understand how it is that in-person learning is even an option right now?
BUT WAIT – WE CAN’T GO REMOTE BECAUSE…
“Things are different in November than they were in April. We know more about the virus and can handle it better.”
No question, great strides have been made in accumulating knowledge about Covid, and that is absolutely awesome!
- Unlike professional sports players and Hollywood stars, students and teachers don’t have access to daily or weekly testing (at least as far as I know, and I have zero idea why they can’t get it)
- While the bright light of a vaccine is on the horizon, it is NOT here right now, and won’t be for a number of months at the earliest.
As clearly demonstrated by the graphics above, High Incidence spread IS here. RIGHT NOW.
Hospitals and medical staff are being overwhelmed. RIGHT NOW.
Local health districts are overwhelmed with contact tracing and are unable to keep up. RIGHT NOW.
BUT, BUT WAIT – WE CAN’T GO REMOTE BECAUSE…
“The State of Ohio shouldn’t be making these decisions. Each local school district needs to make their own decisions based on data from their own communities”
In normal times, there may be a lot of validity in this.
These are not normal times to say the least…
It’s very interesting to note:
- The State of Ohio has never been shy about mandating rules and regulations that every school district has to follow in terms of testing and standards
- The State of Ohio has never been shy about telling local school districts how they will be funded
Now is the time for the State of Ohio to put the state vs. local argument aside and mandate remote learning until this blows over. Now is NOT the time to worry about hurting feelings or injecting state vs. local politics into the issue.
We can’t go remote because it is not the optimal way for students and teachers to interact and learn.
Every single educator would likely agree – in-person learning is the optimal way to learn.
Let’s talk about 2020 – how much of anything during this year could be considered “optimal”?
Very little, if any…
Yes, the rapid pivot to virtual learning back in April was rough on everyone. Educators had to swing into this new learning style in a week or less in most cases.
Here’s the good news…
Educators have spent countless hours since April collaborating, sharing, and learning how to make the best use of virtual learning tools and styles to make the best of this approach.
I’ve watched and listened to all of this unfolding literally over my shoulder every week – it’s been an incredible and amazing thing to watch!
When asked another way…
If the choice for your family was:
- Potential sickness/long-term health issues/potential death of family or friends from Covid + Optimal learning
- Health, safety and well-being of family or friends from avoiding Covid + Good learning
Which would you choose?
I’m voting for health, safety and well-being…
To borrow a recent quote in the Wall Street journal from Monica Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia, PA school district – “the combination of the increase in cases and concern about travel around Thanksgiving made the district’s latest decision to pause it’s (in-person) plan a “no-brainer”. Hopefully Ohio schools will feel the same, and soon…
IS IT REALLY TRUE? “THE SAFETY OF OUR STUDENTS AND STAFF IS OUR HIGHEST PRIORITY”
This statement is front and center when school districts are making comments and updates these days. I know you’ve seen it and heard it countless times too.
For those districts that have not yet chosen to revert to fully remote, how can you possibly make this statement?
88 out of 88 counties in Ohio are High Risk. 80% of the counties are at Red level.
And you’re still insisting that it is safe to be physically in school because “your district Covid case levels remain low”?
The Covid fire is raging right outside your buildings, and the smoke is starting to penetrate the windows and doors.
School superintendents and boards – you have the choice to hit pause and move to remote while this blows over. If you choose not to, you’ll likely be doing a lot of apologizing for unnecessary health crises for staff and students in the weeks ahead.
My hope, and likely the hope of thousands of educators and staff is that you choose the remote option.
And if you can’t make that choice or don’t want to face the backlash from the community…
Then I urge @GovMikeDeWine to take back the decision and sign an order for returning to full remote learning until this dramatic rise in cases settles down.
Governor, as you’ve said so eloquently many, many times – “countless lives are at stake here”.
I couldn’t agree more….
Maybe the case count numbers aren’t very helpful. Back in March/April 2020, we didn’t have many tests available, so a huge number of patients with Covid symptoms were told to return home and only come back for testing if their condition worsened. The tests were reserved for the most severe cases, because the tests were so scarce. Let’s say 15% of patients with Covid symptoms were tested, just as an example. That’s probably on the high side.
Now, in November 2020, there are plenty of tests available. One local hospital tests every woman before she gives birth, for example. Even without symptoms of any sort. Many positive test results are being registered for patients with absolutely no symptoms. Maybe 60% of current patients with Covid are being accounted for in the case counts, just as an example.
So this means that the case counts can be going off the charts, but may not actually indicate an increase in Covid cases compared with March/April of this year.
At this same time, I’m sure this is a stressful situation since your wife is an educator, and this is more than a mental exercise for your family. The students are at much lower risk than the educators, just because of the age differences.
I just wanted to present a different way to look at the same data, and show that the numbers we are being given are not completely reliable.
Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on these concerns I have shared – appreciate the additional perspective you provide.
No question that testing capacity has increased since April of this year. I’m still baffled as to why schools are not testing students and staff on a regular basis like they are doing in pro sports and elsewhere, since the capacity is there. Seems to me like this would sure add some additional context to the spread (or lack thereof) and safety in each school community.
Curious if you’re seeing any districts that you know of that are testing regularly? I’m not aware of any here in Ohio.
I value and appreciate all your help and knowledge with QuickBooks, but on this issue I have to completely disagree. I work at a private school in California so I see this situation up close. The fact is that in the whole state of California only 2 children under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19, but many more have died from suicide and have suffered far worse from not getting proper treatment for other diseases because of fear of COVID-19 and from being shutup in their homes. Children really need social interaction for their healthy development. The harm caused by being cooped up at home far outweighs the danger from COVID-19 for children.
Old folks homes – absolutely isolate them as much as possible. Older people with health issues – absolutely keep their distance and stay home as much as possible. But children are at so little risk from COVID-19. The teachers need to take care and older teachers with health issues should perhaps take an extended leave.
But what is best for the children is to be in person in school.
Thanks for taking the time to respond with your thoughts.
I think everyone agrees that the best place for kids is in school – in normal times. My wife teaches at the high school level, and that age group appears to be at a far greater risk for spreading Covid than the youngsters. So the risk for kids is low – can’t say the same for the staff though.
The problem for me right now is that Covid is in such “high incidence” in all counties (as Ohio refers to it), it can’t help but be carried into the buildings in the near future. Many teachers don’t have the option to take a leave – they either retire early or deal with it based on the environment the district has set up for them. They have no say in the matter or in the management of the decision to stay in person vs. pivot to virtual.
Hello Scott I agree with Mary. Your graph leaves off one important aspect – mortality. The bell curve for mortality flattened months ago. And the virus has weakened, the way viruses do. Covid is no more, and probably less virulent than the flu. A good source of information is American Frontline Doctors.