pindo schools

Pindostan hits 5m COVID-19 cases as testing declines and schools reopen
Benjamin Mateus, WSWS, Aug 10 2020

Elementary school students in Godley, Texas, Wednesday Aug 5 2020.
(Photo: LM Otero/AP)

It has taken just over two weeks for the Pindostan to record an additional 1m cases of COVID-19. On Aug 6, the nation reached the grim milestone of 5m cases. As of this writing, there have been 5,187,611 cases and 165.5k deaths. There are 2,367,820 active cases and over 50k people hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19. After a low point in the positivity rate of 4.5% in mid-June, it has risen to 8%, where it has remained for several weeks despite claims of more testing by the Trump administration. Globally, there are now 20 million cases of COVID-19 and the death toll is 732k. Pindostan, comprising 4.25% of the global population, accounts for 26% of all cases and 22.6% of all fatalities. On a per-capita basis, only Brazil, Peru and Columbia have more daily cases than Pindostan, with approximately 163 infections per million people. Alarmingly, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine is now projecting that Pindostan’s death toll will reach 295,011 by Dec 1. The institute estimates that another 135k people will succumb in the next 113 days (1,195 deaths per day). These estimates are based on the assumption that mask usage will be inconsistent and that half of the school districts in each state will opt for online rather than in-person instruction. IHME Director Dr Christopher Murray acknowledged that should the public adopt near-universal mask usage, estimated additional deaths by that date would drop by 49%, to reach a lower total of 228,271. If mandates were eased, the death toll could rise to over 391k. The present estimate of community mobility, using cell phone data, is at 25% below pre-pandemic norms. At the peak of the nationwide restrictions, mobility had declined to 55% below pre-pandemic patterns. The IHME has consistently been overly conservative in predicting the number of infections and deaths from the pandemic, and, by all accounts, the transition to fall and winter seasons can have a significant impact on the dynamics of community transmission. Given the continuing rise in the rate of new infections and deaths and the lack of any nationally, let alone internationally, coordinated plan to scale up testing, contact tracing, quarantining and treatment, the drive to reopen the schools in the US assumes a homicidal and criminal character.

Global map of per capita COVID-19 cases

Several early school openings—Indiana, Mississippi and Louisiana—have been marked by confirmed COVID-19 cases on day one, necessitating closure or quarantining of students and teachers. Experience has already exposed the falsity of claims that schools can be safely reopened for in-person instruction. What, in fact, is being prepared is an explosive increase in infections and deaths. This is perhaps most clearly exemplified by Florida, with over 530k COVID-19 cases statewide and 8.5k new cases on Saturday. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told the Hillsborough County School Board that it “needs to follow the law, it’s that simple,” after the board issued a statement that the district did not meet the requirements for safely offering in-classroom instruction when schools resume. In the meantime, Governor Ron DeSantis, who has pushed hard for the schools to reopen, instructed health directors across Florida to refuse to give school boards recommendations or risk assessments. On Aug 5, three rural school districts in Texas were the first to head back to the classroom. With some Dallas-area districts poised to begin the first day of fall sessions, state officials were debating if data on COVID-19 infections at public schools should be collected. Texas Education Association spox said:

This question on data collection is still under active deliberation by the agency, and we expect to have an update in coming weeks on what, if any, data will be required, and how it will be recorded.

Several school reopenings in Europe and Asia that proceeded with little incident have been cited as examples of the low risk of transmission among school-aged children. However, these nations have a per capita transmission rate significantly lower than Pindostan, along with a much more capable surveillance system to track and trace new infections.

Comparison of new tests vs new cases in Pindostan

It is worth mentioning that the outbreak in an Israeli school in May of two known COVID-19 cases led to 153 students and 25 staff testing positive, including 87 close contacts outside the school. At the time, the number of daily cases nationwide had for many days been below 30. Studies of children are limited because they are less likely to be tested, given their better outcomes. According to the CDC, more than 200k COVID-19 cases have occurred in children under the age of 18. They account for less than 1% of COVID-19 deaths. There have been 342 cases of a Kawasaki Disease-like syndrome, medically known as Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. Six have died. Yet recent findings have brought to the forefront of the school opening debate the fact that children are susceptible to becoming infected and have the ability to transmit the virus. In a study published by Dr Christine Szablewski for the Georgia Dept of Health, she noted that over half of the children between ages 6 and 10 tested positive at an overnight day camp. She concluded:

This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission.

The porous nature of communities and the extensive interactions that occur between counties and states place all geographic sectors at risk of new outbreaks. Dr Tina Hartert of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine told the WSJ:

Our schools are little mini-microcosms of our cities that they’re in. What’s happening in cities is what’s going to happen in schools. Until there is definitive data one way or the other, we have reason to believe from decades of data from other respiratory viruses that children are very good transmitters. There isn’t a lot of reason to believe that that wouldn’t be the case with this virus.

The Pindo Academy of Pediatrics issued a new report this week noting that more than 97k children tested positive for the coronavirus in just the last two weeks of July. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, one in four workers is at high risk of severe illness if he or she becomes infected. Among teachers, some 1.47m (24%) have a condition that will place them at higher risk for serious illness. Additionally, millions of seniors live in homes with school-aged children. By all accounts, Pindostan has been flying blind through this pandemic despite White House boasts about the vast number of tests conducted thus far. Of great concern is the fact that the number of daily COVID-19 tests in Pindostan has dropped significantly in recent weeks. On Jul 24, when new cases peaked at 75.2k, the number of tests performed that day reached a single-day high of 927k. Since then, the number has plummeted, with only 665k tests on Aug 8. Pindostan reported 54k new cases that day. Even the WaPo felt obliged to comment on Aug 6:

The number of new coronavirus cases recorded nationwide each day is dropping after peaking at more than 75k, but the declines are muddied by issues with testing and data-gathering in big states.

Trump has repeatedly complained that supposedly too aggressive testing was pushing up statistics on infections, and falsely attributed the explosive rise in confirmed cases to increased testing. In the context of the drive to reopen the schools, part of the murderous campaign to force workers back to work, there is every reason to believe that the government, working on behalf of the corporate elite, is engaged in a criminal effort to conceal the true impact of the pandemic.

As statewide cases hit half a million, opposition mounts in Florida to school reopening
Nancy Hanover, WSWS, Aug 10 2020

Teacher opposed to unsafe reopening of schools (Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP)

With many Florida school districts set to open this week and thousands more infected with COVID-19 every day across the state, teachers from across Florida marched on Thug Governor Ron DeSantis’ mansion Saturday to protest his statewide mandate for fully in-person instruction. It was one of dozens, possibly hundreds, of protests against the reopening of schools held across Pindostan over the past month. On Saturday, Florida hit the ghastly total of 526,577 COVID-19 cases and 8,109 deaths. Test positivity rates stand at 13.3 percent, indicating a chronic lack of testing and therefore a substantially greater prevalence of infection than the official numbers. For three weeks in July, the number of daily new cases averaged more than 10.5k, and Florida is now second only to California in total COVID-19 cases. Teacher Alex Ingram, marching at the governor’s mansion, told Florida Today:

We’ve called upon the mayor and local officials to return us to Phase 1 due to the increase in COVID-19 deaths. We have called upon the school board to close schools. We’ve called on the health department to close schools. Now we’re calling on the governor to close schools.

DeSantis, a loyal acolyte of the Trump administration, claimed throughout the summer that if school boards wanted to close districts, they needed to be authorized by their local health department. Then he issued a directive to health directors to refuse to close schools. As a result, USA Today noted:

In county after county the health directors’ refrain to school leaders was the same: Their role was to provide information, not recommendations.

Marc Dodd, a school board member in Lake County, Florida, said last week:

When we voted to reopen schools, I’ll be honest and tell you I did it because we are under an executive order to do so. Do I think they’re safe? Absolutely not.

Meanwhile, it was announced on Sunday that 97k children nationally have tested positive for coronavirus from Jul 16–30, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. With Pindostan now posting over five million total cases since the start of the pandemic, more than 338k have been children. These numbers demonstrate the criminal recklessness of a return to school being justified with the lie that children are either less susceptible or cannot transmit the deadly virus. Nevertheless, across Pindostan, both Demagog & Thug state boxtops are presiding over the herding of young people into schools, sanctioning the suffering and deaths of children, teachers, staff and families in the name of the “economy.” By this they mean getting parents back on the job producing profit. The bipartisan character of the campaign to reopen schools was on full display Friday, when New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo declared:

Good news, all schools can reopen!

His statement paves the way for the reopening of all schools across New York, including the largest school district in Pindostan, which will set a precedent for other states and districts to follow. For its part, the 150k-member Florida Education Association (FEA) recently did a survey of 44k educators and 5k parents, showing that 76% did not feel their school could be reopened safely. Refusing to call for statewide strike action, however, the FEA opted instead to file a lawsuit Jul 20 against the statewide reopening. Predictably, the suit has been sandbagged by authorities. On Thursday, the venue for the trial was relocated, and other procedural barriers are anticipated. Meanwhile, students by the thousands are being forced back into the classroom. Speaking to the WSWS, a Florida music teacher with over 25 years of experience denounced the mandate for a return to school. She agreed that it was entirely motivated by the broader campaign for a return to work, saying:

This decision is 100% economically driven. We teachers are ‘revered,’ given little muffins and cards on Teacher Appreciate Days. But the bottom line is that we are shouldering the responsibility for getting the economy going. That’s what’s being placed at our feet. It is fundamentally irresponsible. It is all about childcare. Meanwhile, teachers are now spending their own money on personal protective equipment and building little plexiglass devices to protect themselves and their students. In our county, we had 350 people march on the local health department. We have a large contingency of parents behind us. We call them a ‘momfia.’ We have had the highest rate of COVID in the state and the highest pediatric rate. I am slated to return to the classroom on Tuesday. Since my county provides the option to go virtual, purchasing webcams for parents, I will have a camera on me all day. I am now responsible for providing the same quality of education, both live and virtual at the same time. I have no idea how that will work out.

The music teacher shared a letter she had recently written to protest the resumption of face-to-face instruction. Addressing school board members, she said:

I am writing this letter with the hope of getting you to listen — authentically LISTEN to my concerns, which by no coincidence, are shared by hundreds of colleagues, community members, parents, and families. We do what we do with intention, integrity, and at a grueling pace — often at personal sacrifice mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially. Regardless of the workload (which only increases each year), we persist. We spend our own personal time and money taking course after course, training after training — all to better serve our students. Each year we are presented with new mandates and expectations and each year we are grossly underfunded and micromanaged almost to the point of insanity. We cannot provide world class rigorous, standards-based, differentiated and developmentally appropriate instruction within the practical and physical challenges of a raging and novel disease that has ravaged the entire planet and killed hundreds of thousands of human beings. It’s not in our rear view mirror. We do NOT have it under control whatsoever. How many local health officials have you ignored? IT IS IN OUR COMMUNITY. IT HAS INFECTED OUR NEIGHBORS.

Referring to the inevitable proliferation of the virus as a “game of Russian Roulette with the lives of children,” she stated:

We want to work. We want to earn every penny of our paycheck. We are not in a position to not work. We have car payments and mortgages and medical bills. We are only asking that you look at the data READILY AVAILABLE TO YOU and make a decision that protects the lives of students, staff and families. This is fixable. Do you have the fortitude to do what is right? Because if you don’t, the consequences will not be fixable. Not now. Not ever.

These sentiments are echoed across Pindostan, as workers are horrified at the dangers of a return to work, but even less inclined to allow their children to be an “experiment,” as recently proposed by Dr. Anthony Fauci. The most recent polling numbers by NPR/Ipsos shows that 82% of K-12 teachers nationally are concerned about returning to in-person teaching this fall, with two-thirds preferring remote instruction. Teachers are not speaking out not just for themselves, but for their students and communities. We urge all opponents of the homicidal demands of the Demagogs, Thugs, unions and big businesses to the profit-driven return to work and school to contact us today and sign up for the WSWS Educators Newsletter.

Georgia teachers and students force temporary closure of North Paulding High School over COVID-19 outbreak
Genevieve Leigh, WSWS, Aug 10 2020

On Sunday, the superintendent of the Paulding County School district in Dallas, Georgia sent an email alerting the parents of North Paulding High School that the school would be closed for in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The superintendent, Dr Brian Otett, explained in the letter that the school had suffered nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 since reopening one week ago. The cases included three staff members and six students. The cluster of cases emerged as a direct consequence of the reckless decision of the Paulding County Board of Education to reopen schools for in-person instruction amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state. It appears that the county opened its schools with almost no protective measures in place. Parents of North Paulding High students reported that they were offered the choice between in-person and virtual learning, but a limit was placed on how many students could do virtual learning. That option was so popular that the limit was reached within a few days. Many families are now on a waiting list, according to the school board.

EfAXe-pWkAEnW9-Photo of the emailed letter from the superintendent

North Paulding High School opened its doors on Aug 3. The school made national headlines just days later after students posted pictures and videos of their peers walking through crowded hallways, without masks. School administrators responded to the exposure with hostility. Two of the students involved were suspended, including 15-year-old Hannah, who told Buzzfeed that she was found to have violated rules against unauthorized use of smartphones in school hallways. The school principal can also be heard in this leaked audio file threatening anyone else with “consequences” if he or she posts anything “negative” on social media. The posts went viral on social media, prompting a massive backlash from students, parents, teachers and others in the Dallas area and throughout the country. Only after the school was made the focus of nationwide negative attention were the students reinstated.

One Hannah’s original posts revealing conditions in the school

The Paulding County Board of Education has fully supported the bipartisan drive to reopen the schools. As in other counties throughout the country, it has made no serious attempt to protect its students and staff. In fact, as the World Socialist Web Site reported on Friday, in a video released on social media of a county Board of Education meeting held just prior to the school reopenings, the chair of the Paulding County Board of Education, Jeff Fuller, can be heard calling the CDC guidelines “complete crap.” Fuller says:

I would like to see Paulding County lead the way in an absolute normal return to school on Aug 3.

He suggests that children are immune from the virus, saying that it is “not fair to kids to shove something down their throats that’s not affecting them.” He ends his remarks by urging his colleagues to not “buy into the hype” around the pandemic. Newly-released video clips from the same meeting reveal even more sinister plotting by members of the Paulding County Board of Education to get around Dept of Health regulations. Per the Georgia Department of Health, schools are required to classify anyone who has been within six feet of a COVID-19 sufferer for 15 minutes or more as a close contact. In the new clip, Theresa Lyons, a member of the board, suggests that students change seats every 14 minutes to get around this regulation.

North Paulding High School

Not only did the school board do virtually nothing to provide protection for students, it sought to circumvent the minimal protections that were mandated! What’s more, there is mounting evidence that the school board was aware of outbreaks among members of the North Paulding High School football team, many of whom, one Facebook video shows, worked out together in a crowded indoor gym the week prior to the school’s reopening. Parents were apparently notified of the outbreaks just hours before the start of the first day of classes. In addition to the student cases, multiple teachers at North Paulding reported positive tests prior to the first day of school. One infected staff member told Buzzfeed News that she came into contact with “most teachers at the school” during a staff event the week prior to reopening. Teachers and staff are reporting that the school is refusing to confirm coronavirus infections among district employees. A leaked “Open Records Act” request from a local parent suggests that North Paulding High School alone had 23 confirmed cases before Aug 5. If any students, teachers or staff die from COVID-19 in the coming weeks or months, their blood will be on the hands of the Paulding County Board of Education.

The emergence of nine new COVID-19 cases in the last week among North Paulding students and staff tragically confirms the emerging science concerning the ability of children to spread the virus. A mounting body of scientific evidence shows that young people are transmitters of the virus. Anyone who says that youth are “unaffected” by the virus or in some way immune is either grossly misinformed or consciously lying on behalf of the political establishment, which understands that scientifically verified information will hinder the drive to reopen the economy. A new report from the Pindo Academy of Pediatrics released Sunday finds that nearly 100k children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July. Out of almost 5m reported COVID-19 cases in Pindostan, the organization found that more than 338k were children. A new CDC report released Friday looked at nearly 580 children who were hospitalized with the coronavirus between the start of March and late July. Researchers found that hospitalization rates for children increased steadily over that timeline. About one in three hospitalized children had to be admitted to an intensive care unit—a rate similar to the ICU admittance rate for hospitalized adults with the coronavirus.

Twitter Post from a parent revealing Jeff Fuller’s refusal
to move to virtual learning for the whole school

These are only the two most recent studies in a growing body of scientific evidence, which, taken as a whole, indicates that the reopening of the schools will have catastrophic consequences for students, teachers, and parents. The experience at North Paulding High School has been instructive for teachers, parents, and students everywhere. It was only under conditions of a groundswell of opposition that the school board was forced to act. Nothing will be accomplished without a mass united movement of workers and young people. In order for this fight to go forward, workers and youth must be clearly armed with an awareness of their enemies and their allies. The demand that schools reopen is central to the ruling class campaign to force workers back to work in order to pump out profits for the corporate-financial elite. While the Trump administration has spearheaded this campaign, the Demagogs bear equal responsibility. This fact was underscored on Friday when the Demagog governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, announced that all schools would be allowed to reopen. Educators, parents, and students must organize independently of the pro-corporate unions and Demagog Party and form a network of rank-and-file committees in every school and neighborhood to prevent the unsafe reopening of the schools. These committees must be guided by science. They must fight to connect with ever broader sections of the working class to prepare for a nationwide general strike against the reopening of the schools and the broader reopening of the economy. Only through a broad-based movement of the working class will society be able to contain the pandemic, vastly expand public education funding and ensure that the social interests of the working class take precedence over private profit. We urge all those who wish to take up such a struggle to contact us today, sign up for the WSWS Educators Newsletter if you are an educator, and join our youth and student group, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality if you are a student or young person.

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