Look at these poseurs.
The one person who looks to be of an age to be a student doesn’t look very happy to be out there. Those are terrible signs, too, wordy and hard to read and attempting to make scattershot points. “Teachers teach me best”, “e-learning is not for me”, “My kids need…in person learning 5 days a week”, yeah, the agenda is clear: get these damn kids out of my house every weekday. The real giveaway is that every sign insists on “masks optional” — why? It’s such a peculiar conservative shibboleth.
But here’s the deal. I agree with a lot of what they want. I’m not a fan of wearing a mask all day, and you probably aren’t, either. I think in-person teaching is best. Some students will thrive with remote teaching, the majority will have a less enlightening experience. I’m at a residential college, and I agree that immersion in the academic experience is valuable. I must also confess that remote teaching, even while I think it is less effective, requires twice as much work out of me. I’ve got 30 years worth of stuff all prepared and ready to go in a classroom and lab, and you’re telling me I have to start over from scratch? Yikes. I was miserable last spring, I expect to suffer some more this fall (but with a little more time to prepare and cushion the blow, I hope).
So here I am, already agreeing with the sentiments on their little, hard-to-read signs, and they’re not at all persuasive. They seem to have forgotten the whole reason we’re doing all this: it’s because we don’t want their kids to die or suffer life-long consequences of infection — the won’t be playing football with scarred lungs! — and we’re trying to find compromises to allow ongoing progress in their education while not increasing their risks of disease. The signs don’t mention any of that. They seem to be thinking that all of these changes in the schools are just to discomfit their conservative values, rather than protecting the kids.
What I also don’t understand is that, if my situation were different and I was the parent of school-aged kids again, I would be welcoming efforts to keep them out of the plague-pit. Just as every winter I’d make sure they had a warm coat and a scarf when they went out, I’d be nagging them to wear a mask. Just this week my wife and I made a trip to St Cloud to deliver a high-quality mask to our oldest boy. He’s a grown-ass man in his 30s, and we worry! On the flip side, my grown-ass daughter stitched up a mask and sent it to me last month. This bizarrely cavalier attitude about masks tells me one thing: they don’t believe in science and medicine. They probably believe in the two sticks lashed together behind them, and the American flag on their hat, but neither of those things will help them if their daughter gets COVID-19, or if she comes home from their “mask-optional” public school or church incubator and pass it on to them.
My sign would be a little pithier. “MY KIDS NEED TO BE HEALTHY.” I’d sacrifice everything to have that be true.