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Time to Update School Pandemic Policy

Parents are far more worried about kids missing out on learning than getting seriously sick from COVID.
January 27, 2022
Tim Miller's Not My Party: Schools Are Failing Us With Stupid COVID Policies

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Tim Miller: Keeping masks on students forever ain’t it. As Omicron fades, pandemic policy should change.

Anthony Fauci: I’m just gonna do my job.

Miller: This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark. Before I get to my rant, I must acknowledge that COVID isn’t over. My friend’s father died recently. Hospital workers are still getting crushed.

Journalist voiceover: Nurses across the country are saying the same thing: They’re burned out.

Dr. Metzger (Adam Shapiro in Sense8): It’s not good.

Miller: But the good news is, in most of the country, Omicron is getting past its peak. It’s time for leaders to pave a path forward that (1) gets everybody on boost mode —

Guy in 1960s sci-fi movie: Boost it.

Miller: — and (2), moves on from strict COVID safety regimes, especially in schools.

Helen Lovejoy: Won’t somebody please think of the children!

Miller: Let’s start with the jab. Something weird happened recently: For once Trump actually said and did the right thing.

Donald Trump: I recommend taking the vaccines! . . . I did it. It’s good. Take the vaccines.

Miller: But still, much of the rest of the conservative entertainment complex continues to spread lies about the vaccine.

Madison Madison (Tracey Ullman in Death to 2021): Just asking questions.

Miller: So one more time for those in the back. The jab won’t affect your fertility. Or your boners. Or lead to mysterious deaths. It’s safe and effective. And look at these charts—nearly everyone dying from the Omicron wave is unvaxed. So in short, get the **** jab, people.

Shia LaBeouf: Just do it!

Miller: Now, what about school? During COVID waves, masks have a place—so don’t be a dick like this guy.

Angry Alaskan Walmart customer: I choose to yell and you cannot stop me!

Stan Smith: He’s unstoppable.

Miller: The rules around masks and remote learning and excessive quarantining need to be logical. As a dad to a 4-year-old, I gotta tell ya, I’m pretty fed up with my kid missing out on learning while adults act an ass.

Anne-Marie Green: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other politicians are accused of violating COVID lockdown restrictions.

Miller: And I’m not alone. Sixty-five percent of parents are more concerned about kids missing out on education than about getting COVID.

Ralph Wiggum: I’m in danger.

Miller: Let’s head to Michigan to prove my point. Last Saturday, Michigan State packed 15,000 people into a basketball gym for their loss against Northwestern. But all month campuses shut down for in-person class. And an hour up the road in Flint the whole school district went virtual indefinitely.

Andy Bernard: How does that work?

Miller: Some facts: People under the age of 17 have accounted for less than 0.1 percent of total COVID deaths and that includes the unvaccinated.

Professor Farnsworth: Ah, to be young again.

Miller: The British government’s study didn’t show conclusive evidence that masks in schools made a difference when it comes to stopping spread. Vaccinated high school and college students are about as likely to die from COVID as they are from a cow falling through the ceiling of the cafeteria.

Compare these pictures. This is f****. Adults get to play, while kids, who aren’t even at risk, have to pay. Too many Democrats are unwilling to adjust these harmful and unnecessary politics because they’re obsessed with distancing themselves from the far-right anti-science nuttery.

Martin (Brett Gelman in Fleabag): Come on. Lighten up.

Miller: But I’m psyched to see that there’s a logical bipartisan middle ground here. Democrats like New York City Mayor Eric Adams have vowed to keep schools open. And Colorado Governor Jared Polis has rebuffed calls for a statewide school mask mandate. Among Republicans: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is creating a summer camp for kids who missed out on school, and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is letting parents decide whether their kids mask.

Maria von Trapp (Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music): These are a few of my favorite things.

Miller: I understand that there are challenges with this. Some teachers and staff are immunocompromised and at greater risk. But the government has invested $200 billion in COVID relief for schools so they can address these kinds of issues. Free masks for kids who are symptomatic, rapid tests for anyone exposed, ventilation, more staff support. Hell, even give the teachers hazard pay, they deserve it.

But students have sacrificed a lot for two years for a disease that’s little risk to them. Younger kids are behind in learning, teens missed out on proms and graduations and all the **** and **** and **** that I got into in high school.

Rue Bennett (Zendaya in Euphoria): If you tell me what drugs you’re doing, I’ll tell you what drugs I’m doing.

Deal or No Deal contestant: No deal!

Miller: It’s well past time for all the olds to start making accommodations and let y’all get back to life.

Mr. Johnson from South Park: It’s about damn time!

Miller: We’ll see you next week for more “Not My Party.”

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.