Keep Your Distance!

Mar 24, 2021 by

Alternate side of the street will go into effect tomorrow, Milky Way time.  The signs are up and enforcement personnel are ready.

Government can decree, claim or recommend anything.  The wheels of authority are perpetually spinning. 

But reality is not always begotten by proclamation and certain behaviors cannot be legislated, commanded or effectively suggested.  Among them is the CDC’s guidance to schools that 3 feet of physical distancing between children is fine. Until recently a 6 feet spacing was endorsed. 

It is a sober request made in the public interest, but it is nonetheless laughable. 

There are very few schools in which adults can coerce students to do much of anything. They must be persuaded to comply voluntarily.  Authority’s hands are tied and increasingly they themselves are all right with that.  They have been indoctrinated into enthusiastically embracing restrictions on their power to act. Discipline is tyranny, they have been conditioned by professional developers to believe.

Traditional arbitrary regulations and meting out of punishment have been replaced by more enlightened approaches to earn compliance.  That’s commendable, though less reliable in the short-term. In many schools, it is impossible to achieve silence during fire drills or for a principal to convince an honors student to remove his twill cap in the building without calling a SWAT team for backup.  

Since 3-feet social distancing is not a rule but just a science-based exhortation, nobody will pay much mind to it, because it is utterly unworkable.  Imagine hundreds of kids walking in hallways responding like Marine Corps recruits to orders to maintain a couple of arms’ lengths from their peers. Will there be electric eyes and secret cameras to record evidence of breaches?

This sounds like a pilot for a new sit-com with enough scripting possibilities to outlast The Golden Girls.

The CDC’s easing up of physical distancing specifications will help draw back to their school buildings, students who have stagnated and been driven stir-crazy by the myth of “remote learning”.  It also encouraged the DOE’s decision to give parents a second chance at opting for in-person instruction now, rather than have to endure until September.

The re-opening of schools is the latest touchy educational topic. But it clearly isn’t an open-shut case.  All opinion-holders claim that their views are informed by science.  But not all claims are valid.  And some politicians are trafficking in misconceptions for, what else, personal gain.  The hopeless mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang, for instance.  He blames the United Federation of Teachers for stymieing the Grand Resumption. 

Compare the recommendations of the most respected independent scientific experts with the positions of the UFT, and any objective New Yorker will see total concurrence. The fact that they are in harmony strikes a discord with Yang and certain education “entrepreneurs”,  thoughtless think-tanks, pundits compensated by the corporate sector and other hangers-on. 

Keep your distance from them.  And make it more than 3 feet!

Ron Isaac

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