Winging It Without A Prayer

Aug 18, 2020 by

What’s the latest limbo count? 

As of close of business last week, more than 400  NYC schools were “in limbo”, because they still had not gotten their re-opening schedules approved by the State Education Department.  Either they had yet to be notified of the outcome or else they hadn’t even gotten around to submitting the plan, according to the Daily News.

How the re-opening of the entire system will actually work is a crazy quilt of unknowns. The least unrealistic goal is for the DOE to create a mere appearance of legitimate operation and authority that will allow at least some farfetched credibility.  A shell, like the agonized  buildings in the South Bronx a few decades ago, whose outer walls were spruced up to welcome camera-laden tourists on Greyhound buses en route from New England to the suffering City.

Hybrid learning is an impossibility from every logistical and educational angle.  Innumerable clashing complications are unavoidable and no amount of meticulous rumination can cure it.  To reconcile them would be analogous to altering the laws of nature. Indeed it does so, by tampering with the hard truths of time and space.  The late Irwin Corey would have summed it up artfully. 

Some kids will come to school either twice or three times a week. Others as little as once weekly.  Other schools will be open on alternate weeks for certain students.  And there are other variations, each with ten thousand divisions and sub-divisions of contingencies. 

A succinct summary of stumbling blocks and fatal flaws would fill a thick notebook:  social distancing for face-to-face students, coordination and technical troubleshooting for hybrid and remote-only kids, disinfection,  intractably poor ventilation because of age and neglect of units, parental compliance and engagement, bus schedules that deviate daily, recalcitrant students and their parents, and the overarching hydra-headed issue of safety, including but not limited to contact tracing, quarantines, sudden closures and finding alternate accommodations, etc.

How this can be accomplished is beyond human grasp and arguably the reach of prayer.

Ron Isaac

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