By Tim Hunt
Is the lockdown really the best policy?Uploaded: Oct 29, 2020
A friend of mine who works as a campus supervisor at a Pleasanton middle school is back on campus proctoring a group of four students as part of the district’s pilot re-opening program.
He’s responsible for ensuring that the students are logged into their classes. He noted two important things:
1. All four are delighted to be back on campus.
2. When the program started two weeks ago, it was the first time this semester that started in August that two of the students had logged into classes.
If they hadn’t “attended” since August, you can imagine how active they were in school between March and May last year.
This anecdote speaks to a distressing broader trend—just how much more difficult the COVID-19 shutdown has been to some students, particularly those of color and with lower incomes. California schools already have a huge achievement gap between Asian and White students and Hispanic and Black students. The shutdown magnified the gap that potentially has lifetime impacts in terms of educational achievement and earnings.
Students, particularly elementary aged, need to get back into classrooms ASAP.
The school lockdowns are part of the lockdown established by many governors, including His Highness Newsom, who argued they are following “the science.” That assumes the science is established and it’s clearly not.
Take, for instance, the Great Barrington Declaration, that has been signed by more than 3,500 scientists. It’s critical of the “cure being worse than the disease,” arguing that the lockdowns have destroyed many economies. It’s been challenging enough for lower income Americans, but consider the plight of 3rd World countries where people have been unable to work and the poor have just gotten poorer. An in-depth interview with the Barrington authors in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal 130 million poor people in the 3rd World are facing starvation.
The Barrington Declaration argues for “focused protection” on vulnerable people and allowing the rest of society to get on with their lives. Big social media platforms initially blocked distribution presumably because it offered a viewpoint contrary to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control.
Listening yesterday to Pastor Ray Johnston speak on the Thrive weekly webinar, I thought he put it right. Granite Bay Church has modified its worship center with six-foot round tables to ensure social distancing and requires masks entering and leaving the center. It is ignoring Newsom’s absurd mandate of a maximum of 100 people or 25% of capacity, whichever number is lower. Mandating no more than 100 people in an auditorium that seats 1,000 is silly. If more than 100 show up at Granite Bay, they are welcome.
He made a more significant point. The lockdown is having profound mental health impacts on people. The Bay Area had more suicides in the last four weeks than it had in all of 2019 and 12% of Americans in one survey said they were considering suicide.
Simply stated, “More people are dying from the restriction than are dying from COVID itself,” he said. As a pastor, he is called to shepherd his flock and doing that remotely is a huge challenge.