I Am Pissed

Bloomington, MN, where I work and my soon-to-be-wife works as a teacher, adopted a hybrid method of learning for the upcoming school year. This is the e-mail I sent to the members of the school board:

“Hello, my name is Nevan Hard. I work in Bloomington, very close to Jefferson High and Olson Middle, and many students of those schools come into my place of work. More importantly, I am marrying a teacher at Olson Middle this Saturday.

I will get straight to the point – you absolutely cannot utilize a hybrid model for Bloomington Schools this year. You have to utilize a primarily online model. There is no rational alternative.

I have links to articles that support my position, but I have seen Board Member Beebe’s video and it is clear to me that you do not care about official reports, so I will try to keep this as person-to-person as I can, because it is frankly quite difficult to discourse with someone who’s epistemological framework differs so drastically from my own.

Here is a list of facts. These are not my own opinions on certain matters, these are facts.

Fact: COVID-19 is a virus that exists.

Fact: The virus has a not insignificant mortality rate.

Fact: Many that do recover have or will have long-standing medical issues that we do not yet fully understand.

Fact: The virus is spread through spit and mucus droplets.

Fact: Masks significantly reduce the spread of spit and mucus droplets. Yes, this is a fact, although there is grey area in terms of which masks provide what kind of protection and not one person will tell you that they are 100% protective.

Fact: Many, MANY students of all age groups, living situations, schools, etc., will not wear masks effectively or at all, even if it is enforced or masks are provided for free.

Fact: This will cause spit and mucus droplets to eject from noses and mouths onto surfaces of all kinds, including other students, teachers, and faculty.

Fact: It is possible for symptoms to not show for weeks, so an infected individual could spread the virus for a very long time before a cause for concern arises. A student who only attends school two days a week instead of five would still do this very easily.

Fact: Students and staff will contract COVID-19 because of this.

Fact: Some students and staff live with people who are at a high risk of severe symptoms.

Fact: It is possible for symptoms to not show for weeks, so an infected individual could spread the virus to these high-risk people for a long time before any need for concern arises.

Fact: Some, possibly not many, but at least some, students AND STAFF will require hospitalization due to severe symptoms.

Fact: Even those who do not require hospitalization will need to stay home for two weeks to not spread the virus.

Fact: Those who would need to stay home live with other family members.

Fact: Some of those family members will have jobs they need to attend in person, many of these have been deemed as essential work.

Fact: Some of these people will be in living situations that preclude them from effectively and/or reliably quarantining themselves from their other family members who have these jobs, not even to mention any children they may have or other adults that they live with.

Fact: There are medications that have had promising success with treating COVID-19 patients.

Fact: There is currently no medication, vaccine, or any other product or chemical that preemptively immunizes and prevents an individual from contracting the virus.

Fact: These medications do not and will not work for everybody.

Fact: Even if a student or teacher reacts positively to treatment medications prescribed by a doctor, they will still be unable to safely attend school.

Fact: The United States according to https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ has the most current and total COVID-19 cases, most deaths, and is in the Top 10 most cases and deaths per capita.

Fact: You had a Zoom meeting to discuss whether it is safe for educators and students to meet in person.

Fact: This is a strong example of the literary term known as irony.

I strongly encourage you to assess these facts to formulate your own opinions, but to help, I will provide my opinions based upon these facts:

Opinion: The United States as a whole has had a tragically laughable response to the pandemic, though to be fair Minnesota’s response has been better than many other states’.

Opinion: Other countries are able to open their schools because they have had a more effective response to the pandemic and are in a position to more safely do so.

Opinion: There is an epistemological epidemic in the United States, including Minnesota, that discards the validity of the scientific method as an effective way to come to reliable results.

Opinion: The principles behind the scientific method should be a cornerstone of any teacher’s epistemology, regardless of subject.

Opinion: Teachers are overworked, but many of them carry on in spite of that due to their passion for the occupation.

Opinion: Teachers are resilient and resourceful enough to find effective methods to teach their students from a distance. Is it ideal? Of course not, but this is the situation that we are in.

Opinion: Many if not most teachers will not extend their passion for the occupation to severe hospitalization or the grave.

Opinion, but probably also fact: Teacher workloads will be more than ever before under the hybrid model.

Opinion: If you do not lose teachers due to COVID-19 death or quarantine, they will leave of their own accord out of their own safety.

Opinion: It does not even appear that you seriously considered a primarily online model for school this year.

Opinion: For reasons such as lunches, bus routes, multiple-student households, extracurriculars, and many other reasons that I admit you have probably considered, a hybrid model would be a logistical nightmare.

Opinion: Homes that do not currently have reliable internet access can be provided reliable internet access by the city or state.

Opinion: This would be much cheaper, safer, and easier than navigating the absurd safety and logistical quagmire of hybrid learning.

And my most hot-take opinion of them all: It really does not seem like you care whatsoever about the health and safety of Bloomington students, teachers, and other faculty.

You CANNOT use the hybrid model at Bloomington schools this year. It is unsafe and unnecessary. Seeing that Minneapolis and Saint Paul have adopted a primarily online model for next year, I frankly had much higher hopes for the people in charge of educating our next generation of students and the teachers that educate them. You must reconsider.”

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