One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that there are plenty of of people who are not teachers who think they know everything about education and people who are not epidemiologists who think they know everything about the spread of disease. It is a great tragedy for the state of Maryland that Governor Larry Hogan is both.
His strong-arm tactics forced school systems to send teachers and staff back to face-to-face learning without being fully vaccinated and without adequate safety preparation. In Howard County we are already seeing new cases attributable to this premature decision.
In addition, the persistent inequity of vaccine distribution basically amounts to Hogan giving white folks a head start and saying the heck with everyone else.
And now, the icing on the cake: Hogan is relaxing limitations on public gatherings which will surely kick off increased spread of the coronavirus throughout the state. His decision may feel “good for business” but it is not compatible with the science and not good for citizens of the state of Maryland. In short, if you wanted to reduce Hogan’s record to a tweet (and I did) it looks like this:
Schools: where re-opened, COVID case levels increasing. Vaccinations: administered primarily to white and affluent. Governor: Great! Let’s relax restrictions!
Word came out last night that Howard County has decided to align itself with the Governor’s newest pronouncements. I imagine that there is intense top-down pressure from the state to conform to Hogan’s wishes. I still think it is wrong. If we say we really care about returning children to face-to-face learning a relaxing of restrictions in other areas makes them, teachers, and staff less safe.
Here in Howard County Executive Calvin Ball is undoubtedly between a rock and a hard place what with the Governor on one hand and the Reopen crowd on the other. Still, I wish he had made the tough choice to maintain these restrictions for the time being as residents continue to get vaccinated. The time we have right now to make headway against this disease is precious. Relaxing restrictions dilutes and hampers our progress.
I am, of course, not the County Executive and there is a lot I don’t know about what went into his decision. And I’m not an epidemiologist, though I note that their advice is that now is not the time to relax our vigilance. My personal experience as a lifelong teacher tells me that this is not an education-prioritizing decision.
Perhaps Maryland’s slogan should be “Business First, Good Sense Need Not Apply.” Or perhaps: Business First, Disease to Follow.”
Up next: yet another press event from the Governor blaming the latest spike on everyone but himself.