Biscuit normally loves back to school season if only because it means he has the house to himself! But this year back to school is a much more difficult proposition, and Biscuit has been depressed about the many bad ideas people have about going back to school. So, he decided to call out these ideas with the hope that eventually people can figure out how to safely have young people return to school and leave their houses to him and his friends.
1. Late preparations for school. There was no surprise that COVID-19 would present a major issue for restarting school in the fall. Despite this realization, states and the federal government did not begin to come up with plans earlier to facilitate school. For example, in Michigan the rules for opening school were just finalized last week. This made it almost impossible to implement appropriate precautions for teachers and staff and open schools on time.
2. Back to school parties. This seemed like the one thing that college students might be able to put off in order to better manage returning to campus this fall. Alas, already many Universities across the country have been associated with outbreaks of COVID-19 due to party activities. An entire sorority at Oklahoma State is already quarantined and FAU has had a full blown pool party with no one in masks! All this and classes have not yet started!
3. Full tuition for online courses. The rationale for charging a student full tuition without providing complete, in-person classes is difficult to understand. It would seem to be fair if students had a mix of different tuition costs based on the online vs. in person content.
4. Cancelled sports. It’s not clear to Biscuit why all sports this fall have been canceled when certain sports, such as cross-country or golf, could easily be played with appropriate social distancing. Importantly, it’s not clear why conferences can’t agree on how to approach a season for particular sports. The risk of COVID-19 infection with football shouldn’t be that different in different parts of the country.
5. Spring football season. Biscuit can’t understand why it would be better for students to play 20 plus football games in a short, six-month period, given the risk of injury. If it’s too risky to play football in the fall due to COVID-19, then the season simply should be canceled.
6. Screening returning students for COVID-19. Why screen students for the presence of COVID-19 infection weeks before having them return to college? it will make a lot of money for LabCorp, but it doesn’t make much sense in trying to prevent infections. Giving students a two-week window for the test means an infected student could resolve their infection after their test whereas students could become infected within the two-week window. Importantly, the real risk for infection is after the students return to school. Results of COVID-19 tests will be much different after the first house party weekend.
7. Restrictions on research activities. Many schools are still limiting access to research facilities and laboratories in a way that’s hamstringing important medical research. Given the value of COVID-19 research, this seems like an extremely bad idea. Most scientists should be able to understand appropriate infectious precautions!
8. Totally canceling classes for elementary schools. Given the importance of socialization for young, elementary school students, Biscuit isn’t sure why people couldn’t find some way to have smaller groups of children come in at least one day a week with appropriate social distancing. This would assure that there is some type of personal interaction between students this fall. Maybe having 1/4 of the class come in one day a week (four days a week to have the entire class come in) would assure some sense of community for students.
Finally, with students not going to school Biscuit does like the extra walks he’s taking. But he can’t help but wonder if people want to stay in school why they won’t just wear their masks and stay 6’ apart when they’re playing beer pong. Even Biscuit understands that.