Follow Alan Singer on his new twitter site at https://twitter.com/AlanJSinger1.
As President, Donald Trump is always busy, he’s constantly on twitter insulting his political enemies, attacking U.S. public health officials, praising dictators, and threatening to declare war on U.S. cities governed by “liberal Democrats.” He spends a lot of the rest of his time promoting his properties and playing golf. With this busy Presidential schedule, it is not clear if he has time to supervise his son Barron’s education or even knows where the fourteen-year old attends school. Maybe they could ask him on his next cognitive test (recite Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV, and the name of the school Barron attends).
Just in case the Donald is “reading” this post (or getting an oral briefing) and is interested in his son’s education, Barron goes to the private St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in a nearby Maryland suburb.
Recently, Trump took time from his busy Presidential schedule to threaten to withhold federal funds from school districts that do not fully open this fall with face-to-face classes, whatever the health risk to students and staff. When asked at a coronavirus whether he had qualms about Barron or his school-age grandchildren returning to class, he claimed “I am comfortable with that.”
The White House also pressured the Centers for Disease Control to release a new statement on school reopening this fall written by a Trump compliant special working group in the Department of Health and Human Services. C.D.C. public health experts were permitted no direct communication with the working group, probably because a C.D.C. internal document labeled a full reopening of schools “highest risk.” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, called it “nonsensical that you would ask a community to shelter in place but keep schools open.”
An argument for reopening schools is that the overall infection rate for school age children remains low, about 2% of the cases in the United States, largely because schools closed in March. But in states experiencing COVID-19 spikes, infection rates for children are much higher. In California and Mississippi, it is close to 10% of all diagnosed cases. In Florida, about one-third of all tested children are infected with the Coronavirus. In Israel, two weeks after schools fully reopened schools, a COVID-19 outbreak forced the government to close dozens of schools. The government’s current policy requires any school with a single COVID-19 case to immediately close to prevent an expanding outbreak of infection.
What the Donald probably does not know or does not want to tell the American people is that because of the COVID-19, St. Andrew’s is deciding whether it will continue to hold all classes online this fall as it did in the spring or adopt a hybrid model permitting limited in-person attendance. The school sent parents a letter, I assume it was addressed to Melania, explaining that administrators will make a final decision at the beginning of August based on the “guidance of appropriate health officials.” If the school opts for the hybrid model, half of the students in grades seven through twelve will attend each week and the other half will “Zoom” in. St. Andrew’s is not even considering a full face-to-face reopening.
The Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital, where Presidential advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump send their children, has not decided whether or how to reopen in the fall. In a May 27 letter to families, “Milton” announced it was equipping its “facilities to offer an online-only option for students who will not return to the buildings in the fall” and taking “steps to implement best practices in hybrid and distance learning so we are prepared for every scenario.” In support of her father, first daughter Ivanka urged schools to reopen on Twitter, but did not say whether she would send her children, ages nine, six, and four, to face-to-face classes.
Apparently, the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great for Presidential children and their families, but not for ordinary Americans.
Coronavirus Hot Spots
Currently the ten countries (listing in descending order) with the highest daily rate of infection per million residents are (1) Oman, (2) Bahrain, (3) Panama, (4) South Africa, (5) United States, (6) Israel, (7) Brazil, (8) Colombia, (9) Bolivia, (10) Kuwait. If ranked separately, ten U.S. states would lead the world in infection rates: (1) Florida, (2) Louisiana, (3) Mississippi, (4) Nevada, (5) Arizona, (6) Alabama, (7) South Carolina, (8) Texas, (9) Idaho, and (10) Tennessee.