32. Learning new math

Monday May 25 2020

Following the overture of the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas opens the story with the line “I remember when this whole thing began …”  Which has nothing to do with anything right now, really. Except for the ear worm that will be my companion all morning now.

But I was thinking back to the first closings, before we knew how impactful this pandemic would be. It started with the schools extending spring break by one week. And boy, how we complained about that. Working parents were scrambling to get childcare for this unexpected period. Inconvenient, but we can push through it, especially those of us who don’t have kids in school. Spring Break travel was strongly discouraged, yet plenty of folk couldn’t be dissuaded to cancel their plans.

The schools never reopened. We didn’t see that coming. Not in the beginning, anyway. Teachers finished the school year by Zoom sessions and other multi-media options. The change was immediate and unplanned. Teachers were challenged to make it work the best they could. Parents finally had to embrace the mechanics behind common core math and once again I was glad to be done with having a kid in school.

High school graduates celebrated with creative changes to their programs. Brookville recognized their seniors with a parade; the graduates stood six feet apart at the edge of the school grounds next to a personalized sign, while parents and well-wishers drove by to shout out their congrats.

Now there’s talk of how K-12 is going to look this coming fall. A graphic passed around Facebook listing some hardcore mandates, purporting to be coming from the CDC.

New policies would include all K-12 students wearing masks during the day, bringing in pre-boxed lunches, no school cafeteria, desks six feet apart, copious sanitizing and hand-washing, and other unrealistic rules. This was later determined to, while not a false document, a misinterpretation of CDC’s recommendations. Of course, the CDC explains everything on their website, if one cares to go take a look at the source. But few will. So this is just another example of how social media fosters a culture of hyperbole and fear mongering among the masses.

Again, the focus is on managing the number of COVID-19 cases that occur during a time period. It’s not possible to eradicate the virus. The more people that get COVID, and recover as one of the 97% survivors, the more immunity factor we’ll have in our communities.

Before the chicken pox vaccine, the varicella virus would empty a Kindergarten classroom. Highly contagious by airborne transmission, the virus moves quickly. But full recovery was always an accepted expectation and we had comfort knowing our kid developed antibodies to avoid a second case. When the vaccine came out in 2006, Derek had already had chicken pox, so I didn’t have to make the choice of trusting this new vaccine. Because honestly, I had questions. Efficacy, safety, long-term effects and possible greater risk of shingles later and whatnot.

I do get the flu vaccine every fall and I realize it’s only good for one strain. I trust that it will do what it claims – to promote the development of antibodies in my system to fight off  the selected influenza of the year. If exposed, I will either have mild symptoms or none at all. The flu vaccine has been around for years and is well understood. Adjustments are made by medical professionals to continue its efficacy. I’ve never had ill effects from the shot and have not had a respiratory flu since starting the annual vaccine practice.

Yet I don’t know how I’ll feel about the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s ready. For similar reasons of when the chicken pox vaccine came out. I wonder about efficacy, safety, and long-term effects. It would be awesome if the medical community were transparent about how they developed the vaccine, but can’t count on that.

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