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When the coronavirus pandemic struck, I accepted that my kids' school year was effectively over. For hope, I turned my sights to September.
Thanks to Trump's haplessly negligent response, the best-case scenarios keep getting worse, and a full schedule of in-school education looks unlikely before September 2021.
Kids only have one shot at a childhood and a primary education, and Trump has made both experiences measurably worse for an entire generation.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
The day everything shut down in New York City, back in March, I had the sinking feeling that the coronavirus pandemic wasn't going to be a short-term crisis. I didn't have the scientific expertise to come to this conclusion, I just had little faith in the powers that be to effectively guide the public through such uncharted waters.
There was so much obvious cluelessness, such little precedent, and a frightening vacuum of leadership at both the local and federal levels that it just didn't seem that hopeful timelines like "15 days to slow the spread" or President Trump's fever dream of re-opening the country on Easter were going to come to pass.
Losing everything that made my expensive, stress-inducing city worth living in was tough, but even more consequential was the indefinite shuttering of schools. Though it wasn't certain at the outset, it quickly became clear that the school year — in person at least — was over and a return to classrooms in September would be a difficult, but possibly reachable goal.
Maintaining the sanity and functionality of a family of five in an apartment over three months' in the virus' epicenter is not an experience I'm eager to replicate, but I still recognize I'm among the luckiest.
That didn't make it hurt any less to watch my fifth-grader's realization that she'd miss out on all the "big little kid" joys that make the last few months of elementary school special, before childhood innocence is met with the maelstrom of middle school. It was mildly annoying that my second-grader would ask on a daily basis when she was going back to school, but it was miserable to realize she had eventually stopped asking.
We're now much closer to September than we are to March, and the outlook has not improved.
No vaccine or herd immunity is expected this calendar year. The antibody tests are still a mess. And the city is slowly and tentatively attempting the reopening process that has gone so disastrously for other parts of the country, while definitive results of whether recent protests were "superspreader" events remain to be seen.
As the school year came to a whimpering end last week, many New York City parents were emailed tentative plans for the next school year that aren't really plans at all.
School might open with a full schedule and full attendance. Or it might be in-school half the time (or less) and distance learning for the other half. Or it might be all distance learning.
Helpful! I'm going to take the safe bet, which is the most pessimistic view possible, and plan accordingly.
New York's partial re-opening means sidewalk cafes and haircuts are back, but for how long? Several cities and states that re-opened are just as quickly re-closing amidst a spike in COVID-19 infections.
This didn't have to happen. And while Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio deserve historical infamy for their initial coronavirus responses, President Donald Trump's name is the most deserving to become synonymous with this virus.
Trump's coronavirus failures are his legacy
Not every federal failure is Trump's alone. Institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) didn't cover itself in glory at the onset of the coronavirus, producing faulty tests, failing in its role as an accurate data repository, and communicating mixed messages to the public.
Trump, the president, distinguished himself as a failure in numerous other arenas.
After suspending some travel from China, he essentially wasted the entire month of February, doing little about the virus besides repeatedly insisting it was no more dangerous than the flu and that it was "under control" and soon to miraculously disappear.
He did, however, find time for other much less important activities. For example, the president decided to meet in the Oval Office with Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson, both briefly famous for playing superhero characters in the 90s. The crucial business Trump needed to attend to while coronavirus spread across the country was talking with Cain and Swanson, the stars of a "deep state"-themed play staged at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that week.
March was another month of missed opportunities by the president, who less than two weeks after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, was already talking about reopening the country in time for Easter.
He'd spend a lot of April having political spats with Democratic governors, threatening to cut off federal aid to their states unless they were nice to him. And despite his own White House's stay-at-home guidelines, he was supporting anti-lockdown protests with tweets like, "LIBERATE MICHIGAN."
In May he moved his attention to opposing mail-in balloting — an important issue in a presidential election year where crowds are a public health threat — despite the fact that both he and his vice president recently voted by that method.
For a time he was a daily guest (via screen) in America's homes, but Dr. Anthony Fauci was almost completely sidelined in the month of June. That's because Trump has turned his attention away from keeping the public informed and toward things like moving his nomination acceptance speech to Jacksonville because the Republican National Convention's original home city, Charlotte, refused to allow a massive, indoor event to take place. He also tried to cram thousands of people into an arena in Tulsa for a campaign rally, but they mostly stayed away.
A faithful believer in cronyism, Trump put his son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders and essential works, yet shortages persist to this day.
Now he's taking his self-serving amorality to new lows by freely admitting that he's cutting federal funding for coronavirus testing to five states because the rising positive test counts are bad for him politically. And he's still so bizarrely opposed to masks that even Republican senators are publicly chiding the president to set a better example.
And in some parts of the country that had previously remained unscathed by a breakout, new epicenters are forming.
Schools out for...ever?
There's no good reason to believe Trump is suddenly going to become competent, just as there's no reason to believe everything from masks to the admissibility of the virus outdoors won't be politicized in this ever-increasingly tribal country.
That's why I'm preemptively accepting the next year of my kids' education will be a complete wash. They will miss out on crucial social milestones. Friendships may fray. Sports won't be played. Their intellectual growth and their educational enrichment will be stunted.
As the misery of the coronavirus moment inevitably extends into an era, I'll never be able to let go of the fact that it didn't have to be this way. While there's plenty of blame to go around and some points in the crisis where the right course of action was unknowable, there were many actions that could have mitigated the tragedy experienced in the US.
When I look at my bored and unstimulated kids slogging through the charade of distance learning this fall, I'll get sad. And I'll get mad and remember it didn't have to be this way. And I'll think of Trump.
Read the original article on Business Insider