No Such Thing as a Totally Safe School

To regain any sense of normalcy during the time of Coronavirus, we’ll need our kids back in school. They need to be back there, and their parents really need their kids to be back there. Like yesterday.

However, the teachers unions and their Democrat masters – or is it the other way around? – hesitate to re-open the schools. While a cynic might think they’re doing this for nakedly political reasons, educators and Dems claim they’re just worried about safety, and of course, the children.

The safety of the children comes first, they say, batting their eyes for the cameras. And until it’s safe, doggone it, kids and teachers will simply have to suffer with “Remote Learning.” Or as I call it, “Not Remotely Learning.”

Sadly, there is no such thing as safety. It’s just an illusion, albeit a useful one that keeps us from being paralyzed by fear. If you stop and think about all the dangers your kids face in a typical school day, why, you’d never let them out of the house.

How do kids get to school? Walking is one way, but when you read accounts of missing children, “last seen walking to (or from) school” is an all too common detail. And despite all the crossing guards in the world, a certain number of children are injured or killed simply crossing the street. While riding a bike may lessen the risk of abduction, it carries the same risk of getting hit by vehicles and the added risk of falls and their attendant injuries.

Riding a bus to school seems like a much safer choice; still, who hasn’t read frightening accounts of drugged or drunk school bus drivers? Of children being accidentally run over by school buses with their numerous blind spots? Of kids falling asleep on the bus ride home and waking up in a dark parking lot? Lots can go wrong taking a bus to school.

Perhaps the safest way to go is being driven by a parent. Let’s assume that particular parent isn’t drunk or stoned and has an excellent driving record. Now all you have to worry about is being run off the road by one of the many crazies we share the roads and highways with daily.

No, simply commuting to school carries significant risks, and it only gets worse from there.

The first danger to little Johnny is his fellow students. They’re little savages, God bless ‘em, slowly learning how to behave in a civilized manner. And until they do, Johnny’s likely to be mocked, teased or made fun of by his peers. Depending on Johnny’s size and demeanor, he may even be robbed of his lunch money, physically assaulted or sexually abused. It’s an enduring trope of family-oriented dramas, little Johnny coming home from school with a black eye. No safety there.

Contemplating the grown-ups little Suzie might encounter at school, one shudders. We all have stories of teachers who didn’t teach, of educators who abused their students either verbally or physically, of school administrators who delivered capricious or undeserved punishment. These stories are commonly shared at the dinner table, unlike stories of sexual abuse that are told only in police blotters and the media. Poor little Suzie is simply too small to fight back against corrupt grown-ups at school, and typically too humiliated to tell her parents what happened to her. And there’s more than unsavory kids and adults to worry about at school. There’s lunch.

School lunch may range from unpalatable to inedible, slightly spoiled to rife with Listeria, chock full of bad carbohydrates to downright carcinogenic. There could be contamination with peanut products causing anaphylactic shock or gluten where it doesn’t belong causing severe GI distress. Bringing lunch from home would seem like the only safe and nutritious option, assuming Mongo, the fifth-grader with the five-o’clock shadow, doesn’t steal it first or throw it in a dumpster. And should your child survive lunch period, there’s always the hazards of gym class. Or P.E., if you’re P.C.

Physical Education is a veritable invitation for serious injury. During gym period, young Germaine will sooner or later suffer pulled muscles, torn ligaments or fractured bones, not to mention the ever-popular towel snaps, purple nurples and wet willies. And who’s watching your little Precious while he risks his neck at P.E.? The punchline to the joke “Those who can’t, teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym.” Yep, some guy or gal with a crewcut and lower SAT scores than the school custodian is looking on desultorily as innocent adolescents try to kill each other. But forget about the dangers you can see at school, the unseen ones are even more worrisome.

Now that everyone’s an amateur microbiologist, we’re all aware of COVID-19. But what Democrats, the teachers unions and the mainstream media – but I repeat myself thrice – all strain to obscure is that COVID-19, statistically speaking, isn’t deadly for youngsters without comorbidities (medical issues like cancer, diabetes, obesity). A healthy child is more likely to die from the common flu than COVID-19, yet schools have never closed during a bad flu season. In addition to the flu virus, the classroom is also a place where, depending on immunization status, students can contract measles, meningitis or mononucleosis, diseases that kill and maim. Should a child somehow survive early education, they then risk getting herpes, chlamydia or syphilis in high school and college. A proper education exposes one to a smorgasbord of deadly pathogens, always has.

And should your child somehow survive shady teachers, conniving administrators, sociopathic classmates, tainted food, a miasma of malignant microbes, and the long, frightful trip to and from school, there’s still the nightmares we read about in the papers to consider. School shootings, 4-alarm fires, collapsed auditorium ceilings and sudden F-3 twisters. Danger lurks everywhere, when you think about it. Wee Pauline might get bitten by the school hamster or gored by someone’s support goat or emotionally traumatized by the cockroaches in her locker. So many perils for poor Pauline, so little time!

Learning, which is absolutely essential to a productive and fulfilling life, requires us to take certain risks; catching COVID-19 is one of them. A rational approach would be to open the schools and only isolate those students and teachers at risk (the elderly, the morbidly obese, the medically compromised). But these days, rationality seems to be in short supply among politicians and educators.

They’d rather keep young McKenna and Liam safe at home and Not Remotely Learning. Heck, the kids would be even safer if they were lightly sedated, swaddled in cotton wool and locked in a closet with a Kevlar door. Then again, there’s always the risk of suffocation

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