If We Cannot Safely Open up Sports, What Are the Hopes of Opening Schools?
When I read many pages of our district’s plans to return to school, I had only two questions: How do I know if someone has the coronavirus? and assuming the virus enters the school because it does, how will you make sure it doesn’t pass on to anyone else? The plan did not answer these questions.
I don’t think there is any way to answer these questions in light of the current test situation in our country. If everyone could be checked every day and you needed a negative test to get into the school building, then maybe . But the truth is that kids and teachers will bring the virus to school and no one will know about it until someone gets sick enough to pass the test and waits for their results and the test comes back positive, and someone finally , will not notify the school.
People with coronavirus can spread it before they show symptoms . Some people with COVID-19 have mild disease that they don’t even realize they are infected. In our current economy, with the threat of no school or work, if you test positive for COVID-19, I’m sure some people will suspect they have coronavirus, but avoid testing so they can keep working or leave their children. at school. Many, if not all, half-empty plans to open schools will be defenseless against all of the above.
What a plan to prevent the spread of a virus might look like
Compare that to the NBA bubble in Orlando . Firstly, the league has limited the range of participants: they have invited only a few teams, and the high-risk players will not play, but will receive their full salary. Other players can refuse to participate without payment, but also without penalty. The league is also cutting the season down to less than three months to limit the amount of time players can spend in the bubble.
Players will not travel. Fans will not attend. Symptoms will be closely monitored and there are strict rules regarding masks and distancing. But that’s not all. This is :
Anyone trapped in Orlando’s bubble must be quarantined for up to 48 hours until two negative COVID-19 tests are recorded. Any players who leave Bubble Wednesday will be quarantined for up to 10 days upon returning to Disney and will be required to register two negative tests as well as an antibody test before returning to the game.
Every night, everything in the bubble is checked, and the results come the next morning.
Several players tested positive before drilling began, and two tested positive upon arriving in Orlando. Since then, there have been no positive reviews . I doubt these are the last positives we will see this season, but at least the league will know when the positive comes in and there is a clear plan for how to isolate people.
When the plan collapses
Major league baseball hasn’t opted for a bubble. Instead, teams travel as usual and players are encouraged to “be careful”. They have a lot of tests, but not enough. Just four days before the start of the season, the Marlins have 11 cases among players and have canceled their home debut.
MLB required players to test negative before training. Their plan calls for daily temperature testing of players and testing for the virus every other day with results within 24 hours. Teams independently develop protocols to isolate players, trace contacts, and determine what to do with high-risk players. There is no agreement on when a team should retire or when an entire season should be canceled; all these details remain in the air.
As the Washington Post notes , the framework for this plan mimics the one used successfully by the German football league. But the football league had strict rules for how players were supposed to defend off the field. And they played in a country with a much lower prevalence of the virus than the United States. Baseball players, meanwhile, are constantly traveling from city to city, many of which are coronavirus hotspots.
What do we think will happen?
So far, it seems that the NBA’s approach to bubbles is performing better than the looser MLB guidelines. But both are far ahead of what is expected of schools, with more people and less funding.
Nobody requires my kids to take multiple negative tests before going to school. No one pays to test them daily or expects the tests to come back faster than anyone else’s. In our district , it takes an average of five days to get test results, with many tests taking longer and many people spending extra days trying to find a place to get tested. And do we expect COVID-19 to not spread to our schools?
I’m not saying that I want my child to be treated like a basketball player. In fact, I don’t believe there is a way to replicate the NBA bubble for the school district – assuming the bubble even works.
And so I’m pretty sure there will be cases of illness and death in schools this year. Either that, or we’ll get to September in this chicken game and schools will finally admit they can’t safely reopen.
Schools must be in person to open so that some parents can work and some students can receive the services they need. I do not pretend to be an answer and do not know the best approach for our entire society. But I know that we cannot separate what is happening in schools from what is happening elsewhere.
If we spent the last four months expanding the community to a much lower level, as other countries have done, there might be a safe way to do limited re-discovery. If we strengthened our testing infrastructure, we could actually require students and staff to test negative in order to enter school. But we didn’t, so we were stuck in this mess. If team owners can’t keep COVID-19 under control for earnings season, what can we hope for when lives are at stake?