The Wrong School Debates

Schools are about to open across much of the nation. The great debates in regard to that are about vaccination and masking. Those are the wrong debates!

There are easy and difficult decisions to make in life. Vaccination and masking are among the easy ones. Vaccinations, with an exception for medical reasons, should have been mandatory some time ago. Until we can sound the “all clear” masks should be required in all large indoor settings. In basketball and business often split second instant decisions are called for. These are among them and what are commonly referred to as the no brainers.

Currently people over 12 are eligible to be vaccinated in America. (As an aside, we are among the most fortunate countries in the world; many others would love to have the option of being vaccinated. Instead of being thankful and taking prudent action we have an element who wants to argue over it.) Keep that in mind as we proceed.

The administration, faculty and support staff at all schools are over 12. Vaccines should be mandatory for them; end of story. If you can’t be vaccinated you either have to work remotely, be assigned to a position that does not put you in contact with others or seek other employment. Harsh? Perhaps yes, but we are dealing with a deadly pandemic.

In colleges and high schools, we are dealing with a student population that is old enough to be vaccinated. As long as all that come in contact with them are and masks are required of all they can safely reopen.

Elementary school students are all under 12 as are some middle school students. Therefore, they cannot currently be vaccinated. The debate shouldn’t be about masks; it should be about whether we should reopen those schools in the first place. That is the question. Reopening them sans vaccinations for those old enough and masking for all is an invitation to tragedies. (Yes, multiple!)

The problem is both disinformation and that the right wing has politicized this issue. One of the leaders of the resistance to sanity is Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He is threatening to withhold the paychecks of local school officials who mandate masks. Let’s take a look at DeSantis’ record juxtaposing his electoral success and his COVID success. He won election to office in 2018 by about 32,000 votes or a margin of .04%. (That may approach a landslide in Trumpian math.) As of this writing the Florida COVID-19 death toll stands at 39,695 and is rising.

In basketball a lot of coaching decision had to be made on the fly and most good coaches feel they can change the world in 45 seconds (about the useful amount of time in a time out). Is it too much to expect political leaders to have the skills and courage of a good athletic coach? There are things to briefly debate in this pandemic; let’s make sure we are using that precious time to have the correct debates.

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