Do I Contradict Myself | National Review

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Since yesterday’s column on how distance-learning arrangements at public schools are going to create strain in the medium term, a few people have pointed out that I was an early advocate for closing schools to stop the spread of coronavirus where there were outbreaks. Or that I once worried affluent parents were preventing the closure of schools because they require them as child-minders. Now I seem to be asking for a return to normalcy. Do I contradict myself?

I don’t think so. I simply think this period of abnormality has revealed how public schools thrive only when conditions are much more “normal” than what we are likely to see for many months.

I thought closing schools where there were outbreaks was the right call in March and I still think it was the right call. The studies showing children are ineffective carriers of the disease give me some second thoughts (though most of those studies are from China), but I still think the dangers come from mixing members of different households in places with poor ventilation and not enough sunlight.

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But favoring the closure the schools for public health doesn’t oblige me or anyone else to find pleasant all the interim arrangements schools have made to get through this time, or to believe these improvisations are workable in the medium term.

A few others have asked what I propose to solve the problem. I don’t think it is solvable. If I had to guess, I think schools will try to carry on through erratic re-openings and distance-learning protocols, while the number of teachers and students who take exception to these arrangements expands. Some number of parents will withdraw their kids and homeschool formally, if only for a year or two. If schools open up, some teachers who have health concerns may try to retire early, or litigate for some other deal.


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