House Party COVID Style: Satire about opening schools this fall

I originally posted this "essay" as a Twitter thread on June 30, 2020. It went a tad viral on Twitter and was also shared over 20k times on Facebook that I know of. (And yes, it is really meta that a thread related to COVID went viral. Pun absolutely intended.)

Lots of folks have asked for an even easier to share version. And I wanted to fix a few typos, while extending a few points. So here is the second draft of this satirical experiment.


House Party COVID Style

For the people advocating we open schools five days a week ‘as normal’ please immediately host a gathering in your home, for 36 children, for six hours. What? That’s too long? Okay let’s make this easier, one hour. Put on a movie give them some snacks and let them hang out because after all, kids need to socialize.

Note, I'm not asking you to teach anything here. Just have the kids over. Keep them entertained any way you want. All that is necessary for this thought experiment anyway, is having 36 kids in your living space.

If you want to deliver a little speech just make sure you wear a mask and stand at least six feet away, but be loud because the mask will make it harder for them to tell what you are saying, and some of them will be way in the back.

What? You just don’t feel safe having 36 kids come to your house? Because of COVID?

Oh, you’re worried about the social distancing? Your place is too small to adequately space out 36 kids at once? I bet it’s more square footage than most classrooms. Truly though, if you have less than 400 square feet, you can reduce your party to just 18 kids.

Oh, and after an hour those 36 kids need to go to the neighbors.

But don’t worry, another 36 kids will come from down the block. In fact, they will keep switching every hour until 180 kids have been through your house in one day. Also, you can’t leave. You have to supervise, fetch things they need, make sure they interact properly, stop them from congregating in the bathroom. (Oh, your poor bathroom.)

This sounds like a lot right. You’re worried one of those 180 kids in your house might be carrying the virus and give it to you or several of the others. That could happen. But hey, this is just for one day. It's not like you have to have a party five days a week for 18 weeks. And you can take precautions. Some of them will probably wear their masks correctly the whole time.

Also, you can take their temperatures when they enter your house. Oh, no, sorry, the rules just changed. You don't get to take their temperatures and there isn't enough time for that. Just have their parents promise they don't have a fever when they get dropped off in the morning. Besides, most kids carrying the virus won't have a fever anyway.

I understand this is concerning. You think things will be better in August tho? How so? Will there be fewer cases of #COVID19 by then? Would you feel safer hosting these 180 children in the fall? I'm sure things will be much better by then after a summer of holiday parties.

Won’t lots of them go to that virtual house party? Sure they will, but there is a whole other group of houses responsible for hosting those virtual parties. Your elderly neighbors, and the lady down the street who has to take immune suppressing drugs because of a transplant are taking care of those kids online. Those people really can't risk having kids in their homes. Your 180 kids are still coming to your party. After all, you don't have any known risk factors, except for you know, having lungs.

What, you want to host a virtual party for 12 kids and an in person party for 24 at the same time? That might be possible if enough kids choose the virtual party experience, but it will be a lot more work for you to make sure both groups are adequately supervised and having an equally good time. It is a party. Make sure you uphold the standards of fun. You wouldn't want to throw an ineffective, un-fun party right? The kids are counting on you.

Now you are responsible for 60 online virtual kids and only 120 in person visitors in your house today. I bet you feel better now that you got that big number down from 180 to 120. Phew.

We should add more houses to spread out the children? Great idea, but houses are expensive. You would need to almost double the number of houses in your neighborhood to make that work. Where will you put them? And you can you build them that fast? This party needs to happen fast. (I mean really. There are people out there saying, "Hire more teachers," like there is some magic bucket of hundreds of thousands of teachers nationwide waiting for us to lower class sizes in a pandemic. And another magic bucket of money to pay them with.)

Nope, your possible options are either a full party with all 36 kids, rotating hourly of course, through your house until you’ve met all 180. Or maybe a 60/120 split. Or a fully virtual party. Yes, you could get together with your neighbors and decide that this large moveable party of kids is just too much. You could advocate for moving the whole party online. That is if you just don't feel safe having them all come through your house.

What do you think? Open your doors or take it all online?

I’m not saying schools shouldn’t open in the fall. I just want people to understand what they are asking for. Of course classrooms aren’t homes, but perhaps if folks consider the situation in-terms of their own living rooms the numbers become more real.

If you aren’t willing to invite 180 kids through your home while you are there today, why do you think this is safe or reasonable for middle and high schools in the fall?

Comments

  1. Saw this one from Terri Eicholz today... https://engagetheirminds.com/2020/07/07/save-yourself/
    I'd love to see more out-of-the-box solutions proposed by educators. Here's a group that districts can pay to help with plans for in-school, blended, and online education, it looks like... ? https://info.dmgroupk12.com/en/dmgroup-elementary-scheduling-support-for-covid19

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  2. Thank you, Jen! Our district is lucky to have you! Let me add that as an elementary teacher, I see about 100 3rd graders a day (most grade levels at our site rotate between at least two teachers) so it's not just middle and high schools. Miles Kahn (@mileskahn) had a great thread on Twitter about questions that need to be answered before schools should be allowed to open. We all want our kids to return to school, but when we actually stop and think about it rationally, we're just not ready.

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