Make it make sense. That’s all parents want.
Two weeks ago, New York City changed its quarantine rules for public schools. New rules from the city Department of Education specified that “we will no longer close an entire classroom when there is a positive case. Vaccinated and unvaccinated students who are wearing face coverings and have maintained at least three feet of distance from a student who tests positive will not be considered close contacts and will not have to quarantine.”
Yet I’ve been receiving a barrage of e-mails from parents reporting that their schools were still shuttering whole classes.
It turns out that these quarantine rules apply only when a student falls ill. When a teacher tests positive, the entire class still has to quarantine. This makes sense because — wait, no, this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Teachers are now required to be vaccinated. So only the vaccinated people in an elementary-school classroom can force a quarantine of the entire class?
The schools-focussed Web site Chalkbeat speculates as to the reason. “In doing this, city officials said they were following [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, which call for students to quarantine anytime they are within six feet of an infected adult. (The city’s interpretation of this rule assumes that every student will have come within six feet of their classroom teacher.)”
In response to which parents cry, rend their garments and scream “Why?” at the sky.
The best part is that the six-feet or three-feet rules were completely arbitrary in the first place. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb admitted in September that the six-feet rule relied on some “old flu studies,” which studied droplets and not the aerosols by which COVID spreads.
Yet 19 months into this pandemic, we are still destroying education based on this cockamamie rule of thumb.
Kids are still forced to be three feet apart, even during recess, even outdoors, all while masked. It’s lunacy.
Last April, when talking about outdoor masking, national virus guru Anthony Fauci said, “It’s common sense to know, that the risk when you are outdoors, as we have been saying all along, is extremely low.” We don’t do common sense when it comes to kids, though.
Gotham public schools also continue to do needless random COVID testing. Each week, they test 10 percent of kids whose parents have signed the testing consent form. Why any parent would consent is a mystery. False positives aren’t uncommon: Witness the false-positive cases that roiled “The View” recently.
A false positive in a school means real disruption. Any child who has interacted with the maybe-positive child within the magical three-feet barrier will also quarantine.
It’s not like it makes an iota of difference, either. The chance of randomly selecting a student who happens to be positive but shows no symptoms is extremely unlikely. It’s a waste of time and money. It’s just more COVID-security theater, and we shouldn’t put the kids through that.
And again, for the thousandth time, we’ve known since last spring that kids are at minuscule risk from the virus and transmit it at a much lower rate than do adults.
Then there’s the absurd health form parents have to fill out every single morning attesting to the fact that their child hasn’t had COVID-like symptoms nor been exposed to someone with COVID.
It may seem like a small thing, but anyone who has ever had to get a child, or three, out the door on time in the morning can attest that an extra few minutes filling out an entirely useless form can be rage-inducing.
But remember, New Yorkers: We pay for this. They work for us. We can’t be afraid to say their COVID protocol house of cards is just that and always has been. These are your kids who lost much of last year and are poised to suffer some more this year. Fight for them. Fight.