The U.S. President yesterday said the schools “must open.” While President Trump may believe that he is far more expert than the experts, he isn’t. Nor is he supposed to be.


First published in July 2020.


“I double dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth-graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely.” – National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, on CNN today.

The President yesterday said the schools “must open.”  But you can’t just open the schools without the proper safeguards put in place not just for the students but for their teachers, many of whom are in the high-risk pool for the virus. And money is needed to do those things.

Picture it. Thirty or so kids who’ve been around adults and others who could be carrying the virus, driven to school to be in a building with hundreds more like them, and in a classroom with about 30 others. Plus the adults. Talk about a Petri dish for infection.

The Culture War is hitting warp speed as the President, at the moment, sees his chances of re-election weakening daily. And for a guy who thinks only about the next news cycle, panic ensues.

Trump said yesterday: “We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it.”

I’d have more faith in those words if the President hadn’t made a habit of saying “everybody agrees” when, clearly, everyone didn’t.

The President seems to be using the issue as one more leg in his attack against Democrats who he says want schools closed because it makes him look bad. I mean, really. Who looks at opening or closing schools during a pandemic as a political calculation? Oh, right.

Meanwhile, the country is about to pass the 3-million marker for infections and the increase is happening rapidly in most of the country, especially those states that opened before they should have, many at the President’s urging.

He doesn’t want to talk much about the virus but when he does he acts as if the danger is passed. It’s not. It’s as lethal today as it was earlier this year or last whenever it arrived on our shores. And I don’t care if any country “sent it” at the moment. I just want the vaccine and treatments to stop it.

But Trump is acting as if he has not quite resolved the coronavirus threat but is on the edge of solving it. This despite almost every health expert saying we’re still in great danger because of the virus and soon may not be able to control it at all. Think of that. That’s not a political statement. That’s a statement that affects every one of our lives – no matter your political beliefs.

It probably helps the President that he thinks 99 percent of those who get the virus have no effects. By now, many of us know someone who died or recovered from the virus. And what are the survivors telling you about “no effects” from the virus. There are very serious effects. We don’t need doctors or the President to tell us that. We know from our experiences.

On top of that, Trump is blowing his racist dog whistle more strongly.

For example, he’s taking on NASCAR for its decision to stop having the Confederate flag waving at its events. He is retweeting racist videos, then deleting them but with no mention of why. He talks about “thugs” in the street and “anarchists” trying to tear down our country.

His (former?) buddy Kanye West has announced he’s running for president and, if he does, I assume he thinks he’ll siphon some votes from Joe Biden to help what he thinks is his Oval Office buddy. But I’m guessing not as many as he may think. After all, he is still “ye” and not likely to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Then again... But I won’t go there. Especially during an election where much of the country, at the moment, more than half the country wants to vote out Donald Trump.

Kanye West and his Oval Office buddy. / Flickr - The White House

Let’s drill down a little bit. This week’s message out of the White House is that schools “must open” this fall. Now, first, the federal government has no say in what public schools do. Zero. They can apply pressure to try to get their way – say trying to withhold some funding (which really is Congress’ decision to make).

Personally, if I had kids of school age I wouldn’t be sending them to school until I was assured there were many protections added into the class room. For example, masks and social distancing, regular deep cleaning, and filtration systems to clean the air.

While the White House may say students must return, that also means older teachers who are more susceptible to the worst effects of the virus must return too. Are we sure?

President Trump, always needing an opponent/enemy, is saying Democrats don’t want kids back in school because he thinks that helps them politically. He said yesterday, “we don’t want people to make political statements or do it (open or close schools) for political reasons.” Uh, yes but… Well, it’s too obvious, so I won’t say it.

Unfortunately, our society has become more political than it has ever been.

If you’re for keeping schools closed, you are a Democrat. If you’re for opening them, you’re a Republican. It’s simple.

But it isn’t.

The pandemic, according to many health care experts, is not under control. In fact it’s out of control in most of the country. If you watch the maps that highlight the surges, you’ll see New England area states are in the best shape. I don’t know why that is other than I do think the politics in those states tend to be more moderate and less Trump v the World. Which means leadership is more moderate and reasonable.

Whether you support Donald Trump or not, what’s important right now is to listen to the health experts. While the President may believe he’s far more expert than the experts, he isn’t. Nor is he supposed to be.

And our lives literally depend on what we do next.🔷


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[This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 8 July 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/The White House. - President Donald Trump listens to participants deliver remarks during the National Dialog on Safely Reopening America's Schools event. | 7 July 2020. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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