Sure, this is a little problem for a plan to open schools in Utah. They have to prepare to inform people if anyone dies.
I can fix it, though! Just delete that bullet point. Poof, gone, no worries, at least, not until it actually happens.
My university has a plan, too. It’s called the Return to Campus plan. They seem to be instinctively following my advice and not mentioning the awkwardnesses that would follow if the plan doesn’t work. There’s a lot of questions there that they answer neatly, but the ones I want to ask aren’t there. See, if the question doesn’t exist, you don’t have to have an answer to the problem! So, I wonder:
Will tests be available on campus? What do students & staff have to do to get one? How often will testing be done? Are there conditions for mandatory testing?
What about contact tracing? If a student, for instance, is diagnosed with COVID-19, will we trace and test and isolate anyone they were in contact with? Or do we just shut the whole campus down?
How will the success of the opening plan be evaluated? Are there criteria in place for re-establishing a lockdown? Is there a number of cases or deaths that will make the administration reverse course? Do we only abandon the plan if we get 1% student deaths?
I notice that, in the plan, there is a vague mention of our study abroad programs. Is anyone aware that most countries have closed their borders to US travel? Even Canada!
Has there been any consideration of our liabilities? With all the fiscal concerns, are we prepared for lawsuits?
Speaking of money, do the faculty get hazard pay? Oops, how silly, We’re getting pay cuts instead.
Returning to the original point, who at the university has been assigned the job of writing the casualty letters? My son, the one who is serving in the army, has been periodically put on death duty — one week periods in which he is responsible for traveling to families to inform them of military deaths in his unit. It sounds like a horrible job, and it is. Who is taking that responsibility here?
I know, discussing these possibilities just makes the whole plan look half-assed. Never mind, just pretend I didn’t ask.
Marcus Ranum says
The university president and management team should greet every new student with a kiss on the cheek and a firm handshake. C’mon, put your mouth where your money is, honey.
As one of my computer security buddies used to say, “risk tolerance is adjusted based on whether it’s my risk, or yours.”
So PZ, are you writing this to your University president, as well as on your blog?
I’m serious. Now is the time for educators to stand together, or we’re screwed.
Fortunately, I teach at a non-residential college, so we don’t need to factor in the residence hall cash cow. Our rule for the fall is simple — all classes are online except for labs and clinicals, and those are at 1/3 capacity.
just heard an interview with a doctor expert in infectious diseases. She said something that I was not aware of. Covad19 is the most infectious in the days before symptoms show before fever.
Which leaves me to consider that even if were testing a lot more people which we were not doing if we were doing it after symptoms were evident we would end up exactly where we are. It also tells me unless we do extensive tracing as well as testing ,with rapid turn around we will continue to grow through this mess.
The fragile hope I have is not helped our political leadership.
Ray Ceeya says
Dear (Mr./Mrs./Ms.) We regret that you’re (son/daughter) has tragically passed after extended complications from the infection (he/she) contracted at our school.
Blah blah blah… Thoughts and prayers… Blah blah MF BLAH!
I propose a new unit going into the fall, based on the number of children killed at Columbine in 1999. 15 kids died that day. We’ll probably hit one Columbine in a month and by December, a few dozen.
This is sarcasm by the way. Cruel jaded sarcasm. Unlike the cruel jaded apathy out political powers are showing during this crisis. I’m not really an asshole, but it’s the only way I can cope with this shit.
@4, Ray Ceeya: From which century have you traveled to this one? I remember the “Mrs./Ms.” thingy abolished in the seventies of the previous century.
Ray Ceeya says
@5 some of the more rural parts of America were a bit slow to catch up. Like the one I grew up in. It was still a thing in the 80s when I was learning to read and wright.
A lot of school districts on the west coast are writing up a Plan A, some sort of opening, and a Plan B, for when everyone gets sick with Covid-19 virus and they shut the schools down again.
We really need to learn how to educate our children without anyone getting sick and/or being permanently disabled or dead.
I’m sure it is doable.
I’m also sure it will cost money, probably a lot of money.
Even so, lack of education is far more expensive in the long run because those children are quite literally, the future of our society.
We aren’t there yet but if we don’t try and figure it out, we will always… never be there.
The item I notice is missing is, a draft letter for the death of an administrator. Said administrators probably didn’t think about that. Might have changed their entire plan.
It’s not just you… https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/national-international/university-professors-fear-returning-to-campus-as-coronavirus-cases-surge-nationwide/2324563/
And it’s not just colleges…. https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/south-bay/san-jose-teachers-refuse-to-return-to-the-classroom-citing-unsafe-conditions/2324286/
Santa Clara County and Oakland, CA have both announced that schools will not be “in person” when they open for the Fall term, as well as San Jose (per article linked above).
@6. You were writing today. :-P
Clearly, most schools and universities are making it up as they go along.
Not surprising, since we last saw something like the Covid-19 virus in 1918.
At least some school districts and universities in California will be distance learning only in the fall.
That has its own huge problems of course.
.1. Reports are that internet distance learning was a failure for a huge number of students in the spring.
it of course, effects poor students, frequently nonwhite, the most.
The ones that really need a good education.
Not everyone has a state of the art computer with high speed internet.
.2. What about Special Ed students?
For some of them, distance learning isn’t going to work.
@ 8 whheydt
The item I notice is missing is, a draft letter for the death of an administrator.
They may not want to encourage dancing in the streets?
I just had a look at the local university’s website and it looks like it is going with a mixed model. Most of the undergrad programs are going on-line though something like 3rd & 4th year Nursing will be apparently on-campus, Grad studies will be all over the place (figuratively & literally), Law does not seem to have decided.
Residences will be open but at half capacity with students grouped by program or something, not that I imagine they ill even get half capacity. Most residences cater to first year students who, if they are taking on-line courses will likely not show up on campus.
It looks like it will be semi-organized chaos and I wonder what the thinking is for labs and hands-on courses such as fine arts?
A few years ago we had to have a girl chiseled out of a full plaster body cast when a fine arts project hit a glitch. Not something to negotiate over Zoom.
Ray Ceeya says
@10, old habits die hard. Habits like assuming that school should close every summer and reopen every fall. The solution is easy in my mind, just cancel 2021 summer vacation and make the kids catch up. Sorry kids, COVID gave you bonus vacation in 2020 but the payback is no summer vacation for a year.
Marcus Ranum says
The changes to the job market resulting from Covid are going to gellbe so severe that it is possible the value of an education will go to zero. Everyone who is not in a union (except for cops) better be thinking of how to ride out the “gig economy disposable labor” market that is looming over the horizon. It might be better to spend tuition money as seed capital; there are going to be losers and winners and I’m betting small services businesses will do well. Not universities, theaters, stadia. Private clubs, in-home fine catering, emergency services; there will be new opportunities. Want some fun? Freelance police as a service – unarmed security. Huge opportunity.
Ray Ceeya says
@14 First you sound like a libertarian. No judgement if you are or aren’t but that comes off as libertatian-esque. Second, “in-home fine catering”? Is that even a thing? What does that even mean? Third, “Freelance police as a service” no, just absolutely no. That’s like giving everyone with a gun in a “stand your ground” state a badge and free ammo, so HELL NO. The fact that you call that “fun” makes me think you watched too many Death Wish and Dirty Harry movies.
Susan Montgomery says
This is a prime example of how conservatives try to use our virtues against us. You think they’d be happy with keeping the schools closed given their low view on education, right? But they’re hot to reopen the schools. So if we say no, they then say “I thought liberals like the schools. Don’t you like the schools? You hate the children! You’re the real fascists!” etc. etc.
@15 I think we have a Max and Sam fan.
@14 Do you think the things you like will stay the same under such vastly different circumstances?
Marcus Ranum says
No, I’m not. In fact, one could start new businesses so as to make them collectively owned and operated. And, did you notice I recommended everyone who can possibly unionize should do so? If that reads to you as libertarian, you need reading glasses.
Freelance security services already exist; they just don’t compete directly with cops because cops have tried to monopolize that market. But the economic and employment fallout from Covid is going to weaken some of monopolies. By “fun” I am imagining the desperate thrashings of the police unions as they lose control over municipal budgets. And, it isn’t a libertarian argument to point out that private policing could be a good way to break the Gordian knot police unions have tied around muni budgets.
One does not have to start businesses with rapacious goals. There are going to be winners and losers and occupying some of the winners’ positions with non-rapacious businesses is a good thing. Because unless capitalism goes away (Covid appears to be amplifying it) otherwise it’s going to be the Ubers and Amazons that occupy the winning positions because they have more resources.
Saying I sound like a libertarian is about as nasty as saying I look like a pig-fucker or a cannibal. Since I’m not, I especially do not appreciate it.
Marcus Ranum says
in-home fine catering”? Is that even a thing? What does that even mean?
Think! Restaurants and theaters are toast. It’s going to be carryout and delivery and streaming for decades. But someone who used to cook and serve at a restaurant can still cook and serve – carefully – at someone’s residence, cut out the expensive footprint and probably serve a few seatings a night. Remember chamber-music? Or how about a private mixologist for discreet appointments?
A lot of nice things have been shut down but the rich and powerful still have them. There will still be opportunities down-market. I am not saying this like some gloating libertarian but rather that there are opportunities for cooks, waiters, bartenders, musicians, etc. – that are currently being positioned for eradication by meal delivery services.
I do not know what the new economy is going to look like, but market capitalism has already been eroding the value of higher education. Nobody is going to beat capitalism by playing their own game because it’s just squabbling over profit-margins as they vanish.
Rich Woods says
In the UK we’ve reached the point these last few weeks where more school pupils are applying for university now than at the normal peak around New Year. It looks like they’ve decided that being awarded grades on work done up to Easter is going to give them better results than the June exams post-lockdown (where exams have been run at all), and that the job market prospects for the coming year are so poor that they’ll be better off extending their education.
It’s good for the universities right now, because we were worried about a natural demographic tail-off in applicants for this year and next, while for at the moment it looks like we should all be able to meet our planned undergraduate intake. The difficulties now lie with recruitment of international students, which is being hit by the double-whammy of the pandemic and of the xenophobic attitude prevalent thanks to the Brexit decision. It’s safe to say that the government is not helping here, tending as it does to make hardline immigration pronouncements designed to appeal to its core arsehole segment plus a lot of empty rhetoric saying how this won’t affect international students or the international recruitment that our health and hospitality sectors rely upon and which greatly benefits our tech sector and others.
Add to that the ever more likely no-deal Brexit blow to the economy due for January, the cost of this year’s Covid-19 amelioration measures, and the fact that we’re still not clear of the effects of the 2008 recession and subsequent flawed austerity decisions, and you won’t be surprised to hear that a lot of people are thinking that the next 5-10 years are going to be pretty fucking terrible. On top of that we still don’t know if there will be (or even can be) a viable Sars-Cov-2 vaccine, potentially leaving the elderly and other vulnerable people exposed every year to an endemic infection capable of killing off the unwell as readily as influenza and pneumonia did before those became preventable and treatable. Happy days.
R. L. Foster says
I know the answer is self-evident, but have Trump and DeVos really thought this through? We all know that their rationale for a rapid reopening of schools has nothing to do with the kids’ education. It has everything to do with the parents getting back to work. It’s to project a semblance of normalcy — the kids in class, mom and dad at work, things are back to normal. Classic gaslighting. But Trump’s strategy very quickly falls apart for one very simple reason, he does not control the virus. Little Johnny will get infected and bring Covid back home with him. Then his mom and dad will get it. Many tens of thousands around the nation quickly fall ill and require medical attention. Then everybody goes batshit crazy. Parents will start pulling their children back out of school, consequences be damned. What does Trump do then? Order parents to send their children back? And remember, all of this is happening right before the November election. That’s why I asked, have they thought this through?
Kevin Karplus says
The University of California campuses are (mostly) being more reasonable:
https://www.sacbee.com/article244116777.html has a summary of what each of the campuses is planning to do about in-person vs. remote instruction this fall. Not given in the article, but UCSC currently has only 21 classes planned to be face-to-face, with a total of 265 seats—that is less than about 0.5% of the total instruction.
The “template letters” wouldn’t be informing the parents or spouses of the death of a student or teacher. Those horrible events would already be known to them as news delivered by doctors at a hospital, not the school. If somebody suddenly falls over the school would just call 911 and get the paramedics to carry the body off.
Instead, the letters would be how the school expresses its sincerest sympathies (as in offering its thoughtsandprayers with a cherry on top) and would ensure the school minimizes their liability in the minds of the bereaved by pointing out that something to the effect of, “Hey, it wasn’t our idea, ya know…the government made us do it and forced you into it as well. Hard knocks.”
Come to think of it, they missed including something even more important on the list: printing out waivers for all parents and spouses to sign before classes open. In some places they might also even include a line that signees acknowledge compliance in having their kids or spouses attend classes by legal order of the government and can’t hold the school accountable: “SIGN HERE…(because you have to by law – but if your precious loved one croaks, you can’t blame us. We gave you the cherry on top).
The “death notification” stuff is no fun at all. Back in the dark ages when I was a CO — there’s no base-wide duty officer in the USAF, it’s one of the “benefits” of being a squadron commander — I had to do a few. (The operative word in “cold war” is not the first one.) Including a multiple on a Christmas Day, overseas.
And as an aside on the way letters are addressed for official correspondence in government use: Remember, the letter is being addressed to someone who is probably older, and may not have internalized the “Ms/Mrs” thingy. At all. Just be glad it’s not the 1980s and you’re stuck with a format prescribed during the Vietnam era…
Lynna, OM says
Excerpts from an article written by Masha Gessen, (“What Do College Students Think of Their Schools’ Reopening Plans?”), for The New Yorker:
More at the link.
“At a distance but in person” sounds good, even if it is possible only occasionally.
In home fine dining
Goldbelly Ships Iconic Restaurant Food to Your Home | The New Yorker
I have gotten some great lobster rolls from Goldbelly and plan to try some of the things mentioned in this article. Expensive.
FWIW, there is almost no research on how the new Zoom etc. distant learning actually worked in Spring quarter, 2020.
This article from the NYTimes is one of the few I found using a Google search.
This is appalling.
We need to know how well it works, who it doesn’t work for, and how to make it work for as many students as possible. No child left behind and all that.
I’m sure we can make it work. I’m also sure that it will take a lot of time, a huge amount of money, and a lot of expertise and trial and error.
I’m also sure if we left it up to the Trump/GOP regime they would do for Remote Learning what they did with the Covid-19 pandemic. Ignore the problem, hope it goes away, and watch a generation of kids get a minimal education if that.
Re: raven @ #11…
I looked up data a couple of days ago. The estimated death toll (for the US) from the 1918-1919 flue pandemic is 500K to 850K, across 4 “waves” over 2 years. As of today, death toll (for the US) from COVID-19 is “over 134K” after about 6 months. At least one estimate is for it to be 220K to 250K by the end of 2020. So it looks on track to match at least the lower estimate of the 1918-1919 flu pandemic.
Kids and schools… It doesn’t take “latest and greatest”. At least our local schools are using Chromebooks, which–in terms of current tech–are crap. 2GB dual-core Celeron running at 2.13GHz. I’ve replicated everything the Chromebook is used for on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 2GB RAM. That’s a quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 running at 1.5GHz. The only thing I don’t have the Pi doing is videoconferencing and I’m working on that.
While my grandson is out of school, and the school year is over, we still have him working at a typing tutorial program (frustrating for him because the program wants to see 96+% accuracy to move to the next lesson), math (on-line math program recommend by the school district), reading, and some suitable educational (at least we think so) video. So far he’s been through James Burke’s “Connections”, Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight”, and is working on Sagan’s “Cosmos”. After that (assuming time), it’ll probably be “Victory at Sea” (often rated as the best television documentary ever produced). So it’s a mix of history and science.
Re; raven @ #26…
None of that surprises me in the least. While the schools were out, I already figured that the schools (were they to go back to “normal”) were going to spend at least one third of they year was going to be repeat/catch-up. Now, I suspect it’s really going to simply be a “lost year”.
A big reason why the last part of this past school year was such a mess is that there was virtually no coordination or scheduling. Or simpler, no one had a clue what the H they were doing, and the chaos was a natural result of that.
Communication by the schools was minimal to non-existent. (Hand-wringing letters from the administration don’t actual convey any information, so it’s worse that unless.)
Example of the on-going communications gap: I have asked 3 separate people–a math teacher, the school principal, and a district “resource contact”–for an e-mail contact with the person that will be teaching an elective my grandson wants to take next year. None of them (and since I have an e-mail address for the “resource person”–I asked during a community on-line session, then an immediate follow-up and a second e-mail since then) have given any response at all.
The whole thing reminds me one one of the traditional military sayings about how things go wrong: Order, counter-order, disorder.
Pierce R. Butler says
raven @ # 11: … internet distance learning was a failure for a huge number of students …
A friend now spends most of her time raising her grandchildren (thus enabling their mother to raise money by working). They have good internet (by US standards, that is), but not so much when divided among two students (one with a teacher assigning insane amounts of material), one working white-collar mother, and a grandmother (who, however, barely has time to attend to more than a few texts per day on her phone). And these are the “lucky” ones.
The grandmother will probably have to move out for her own safety if the area schools go along with our president’s & governor’s demented classes-in-school-buildings-five-days-a-week-starting-next-month! demand.
Great American Satan says
K-12 education in the US long ago transformed into a system for babysitting kids, freeing moms to join the workforce so everybody can get paid less. The only reason rethuglicans want kids in schools is so parents can get back to properly toiling for them.
Is this an internal check list or an external one?
I was looking at my alma mater’s COVID plan web site, and it is full of crazy detail. Only seniors will be allowed back on campus. Everyone else is remote. The level of detail is awesome. I’m still waiting for the FAQ to finish downloading. (That was a joke, but one with some truth in it.) Apparently it was crowdsourced, and they have to be spending some money from the endowment – they have a big endowment – to make it work. For example, they are sure everyone who wants an iPad with cellular data access can get one which is especially important for students who might have 3G but no wired internet. Not everyone has their kind of money.
Given their insane level of planning, I am sure they have draft letters regarding student and faculty deaths, probably with criteria for using each kind of letter. They just probably have a bullet point in some internal plan somewhere saying don’t let anyone who doesn’t need one see them.
I find it fascinating that you’ve not bothered with that silly math thing and go with instinct, which really is the worst possible choice!
One does and must calculate risks, in any significantly large environment beyond mere familial level!
I already know that the University fucked it up.
A lot of Information Assurance/Information Security is based upon mathematics, proven via insurance underwriters information, all of which is mutually informed mathematical calculations of risk exposure, risk present and annual loss expectancy.
Precisely how much do you spend to protect an asset of a specific value.
No, I’m not going to try to value a human being, ever, anyone trying in my presence is at a risk of immediate death.
But, one assesses a risk, one calculates potential harm, one decides upon risk of harm to benefit and moves along.
Every activity carries risk. Yesterday, I managed to wrangle my wife outside to get some food from a local Rutters quickie mart, which refuses to insist upon customer mask wearing, despite state orders.
We shopped rapidly, we know we’re toast if exposed, surprisingly, the old 1/3 of customers were now 2/3 customers wearing masks.
I’m rather certain that we’ve escaped unscathed.
I literally calculated the exposure risk first, which is rather unusual for me, normally I’d approximate a risk for a casual exercise. But, we’re both high risk to exposure and death.
Any plan should show their work, their mathematics that one can trivially find support or peer rejection online.
If they refuse, they’re probably using rectally provided facts, in short, pulling shit out of their ass.
Given political pressure and games, most plans must be suspect, both due to political pressure and financial pressure.
So, show me the math or simply be dismissed – forever.
I’ll never accept a source that claimed accuracy and primacy, then was disgraced.
Hairhead, Still Learning at 59 says
Hey wzrd1, here’s a few numbers for you, reposted from democratic underground:
Why is everybody making such a fuss over a disease with less than 1% mortality rate?
There are two problems with this question.
1. It neglects the law of large numbers; and
2. It assumes that one of two things happen: you die or you’re 100% fine.
The US has a population of 328,200,000. If one percent of the population dies, that’s 3,282,000 people dead.
Three million people dead would monkey wrench the economy no matter what. That more than doubles the number of annual deaths all at once.
The second bit is people keep talking about deaths. Deaths, deaths, deaths. Only one percent die! Just one percent! One is a small number! No big deal, right?
What about the people who survive?
For every one person who dies:
-19 more require hospitalization.
-18 of those will have permanent heart damage for the rest of their lives.
-10 will have permanent lung damage.
-3 will have strokes.
-2 will have neurological damage that leads to chronic weakness and loss of coordination.
-2 will have neurological damage that leads to loss of cognitive function.
So now all of a sudden, that “but it’s only 1% fatal!” becomes:
-3,282,000 people dead.
-59,076,000 people with permanent heart damage.
-32,820,000 people with permanent lung damage.
-9,846,000 people with strokes.
-6,564,000 people with muscle weakness.
-6,564,000 people with loss of cognitive function.
That’s the thing that the folks who keep going on about “only 1% dead, what’s the big deal?” don’t get.
Innumeracy in the general population is a dangerous thing — and more so in our leaders.
I don’t doubt the general point that a lot of Covid-19 survivors are going to have long-term health problems (indeed, for all we know at this point, it could be 100%), but following links from Democratic Underground, I reached here, and I have to say the actual numbers look pretty dodgy – e.g., it’s not at all clear where the 18 out of 19 hospitalized survivors having permanent heart damage comes from.
The number of Covid-19 virus patients with permanent organ damage isn’t too well established as of yet.
The studies are small and the patient populations are nonrandom.
Whatever the end numbers, it is going to be a lot higher than the death rate.
In this study from China, 27.8% of hospitalized patients had heart damage severe enough to be life threatening or fatal. It’s possible more patients had or will show heart damage that is less severe later on.
We are now seeing permanent organ damage in people who were never all that sick and were never hospitalized.
These are the patients that have problems months after they were infected by the virus.
A lot of this organ damage might show up decades after people have recovered from the virus.
Organ systems decline functionally with aging.
To take one example:
“Your lungs mature by the time you are about 20-25 years old. After about the age of 35, it is normal for your lung function to decline gradually as you age. This can make breathing slightly more difficult as you get older.”
Lung damage that is not all that noticeable at 25 may be noticeable at 50, and so on for heart and kidneys.