A Flagler Palm Coast High School teacher who asked not to be named wrote the following account late this week, ahead of school’s resumption for students on Aug. 10. Teachers were back at work starting last Monday.
As the school year approached, I became more anxious about returning to classes full of unmasked or partially-masked high school students. While I am fully vaccinated, I worry about the efficacy of the vaccine as the virus continues to mutate into different variants through the country and community.
In the teacher workdays this week, most of us were unmasked, including myself, assuming that we are all vaccinated. We distanced as much as possible. But as soon as the students walk in Tuesday, I will be wearing a mask, encouraging my students to do so, and will have a box of masks for them to use if they don’t have any. My largest class will have 34 students. I do not have a big classroom. Several teachers have classes with well over 30 students this year.
My frustration with the Governor’s ban on mask mandates in schools is that it’s unsafe and hypocritical. DeSantis is ignoring the science by arguing that the recent spike is seasonal, which is nonsense. He is also arguing against federal Covid interventions by taking a states’ rights position, while simultaneously restricting the rights of counties and local school governing bodies to do what they feel is best for their communities according to their local health departments.
I have several practical concerns. First is the complete lack of information from the school board concerning Covid protocols. The first time I read the district protocols was on this site. There has been no discussion of a contingency plan if there is a Covid breakout. Nor is there clarity of what happens if several students or teachers test positive. CDC guidelines say to quarantine, but that’s not clear at the local level. The CDC states that even vaccinated persons who are positive can spread the virus to others. But the Health Department, despite its new rapid-testing protocol for district teachers and students, will not be testing those who are vaccinated and asymptomatic, but may have been exposed to the virus, which is as good as saying that people who experience breakthrough infections–and don’t know it–may continue working. This is unacceptable, irresponsible, and dangerous. In sum, there has been no articulated plan for the eventual breakout of cases among teachers and students, vaccinated or not.
There is a false sense of security in the vaccine, or at least the false impression, that it protects people from getting and spreading the virus. Our school board, it seems, has not taken this science into consideration. I would be mortified if I contracted the virus and passed it to a student, who might further pass it along to an eight-year old unvaccinated sibling or an eighty-year old grandmother.
I cannot imagine what our teachers at the elementary schools are going through as we prepare for this school year. Our anti-mask, anti-vax former school board chair has provided no leadership and apparently, like the governor, sees all of her employees and students as mere numbers.
The virus today in Flagler County is worse than it has been during the entire pandemic. If only 50 percent of our population is vaccinated, that means very few of our kids are vaccinated, and none under 12 have been cleared to be vaccinated, though they can still be carriers. This is about to be an entirely preventable shitshow.
Article written by a teacher not only smart but also with an abundance of common sense. It’s surprisingly foolish to hear Bossadarts comments on this as well as the prior article with comments between Conklin and McDonald. I wanna cry, but need to hold it together because I’m sure of one thing. That is that something bad is lurking in our future here. Moron governor that we have….. not much else to add here. I pray for the Lords mercy.
As long as they have their mask on, what are they worried about? Masks work, just ask Fauci.
Adapt or Natural Selection will take care of it says
Shelly, there’s way to much to unpack in your comment and I’m not taking new patients, so if you can, find a therapist. I suggest virtual counseling.
Ray W. says
There is an old legal pearl of wisdom, as follows:
There are four stages to the development of a lawyer. 1. Upon graduation from law school, a lawyer is unconsciously ineffective, in that he or she does not yet know just how little he or she knows. 2. After a very short period of time, the new lawyer becomes consciously ineffective, in that he or she begins to understand just how little he or she knows. 3. In due time, the developing lawyer becomes consciously effective, in that he or she knows what to do, but has to think about it before doing it. 4. A fully developed lawyer is unconsciously effective, in that he or she automatically knows what to do without thinking about it.
Is it possible that the significant share of the populace, like Shelly, apparently so new to the intricacies of the science of viral-based pandemics and endemics, are unconsciously ineffective? They simply are unconsciously unaware of the fact that they don’t know what they are talking about, yet believe they are experts and know more than those who have studied and applied their knowledge in their spheres of expertise for decades? Perhaps, Shelly needs to accept the possibility that Dr. Fauci knows quite a bit more than our governor about viral-based pandemics and endemics. I strongly suspect that when Dr. Fauci tells the public that masks work when coupled with social distancing, he knows far more about the subject than just about any other talking head, including me, but at least I openly admit that I am aware that I am consciously ineffective in this field of study.
@Republican dirty trick shop, aka strategist, KGB boiler room, or John Doe
in a Norman Rockwell — how does one know anymore?
Do you think people who “learned all they need to know” from their fellow Facebook tribesmen, Limbaugh, Murdoch’s Wurlitzter, etc., have any inkling of how consent is manufactured today? Manufactured, I would add, by amoral Ivy League prepared sociopaths, e.g., desantis, cruz, who speak like “one of us” to a group of workers whose employer has crowded them into camera frame at a rally with “their right to choose” between cheering like trained seals for the guest of honor – on the clock, or punching out and not; knowing BTW, that that choice won’t be forgotten by the source of their livelihood. Potemkin and Goebbels are barking in hell from envy and Priapism…
Knowing we live in a world where reactionary billionaires, e.g., Murdoch, Koch, Mercer, and their ilk, endow PACs, universities, vanity presses, etc., and super criminals like Putin wield entire states in service of lies and subversion, with the same goals as the aforementioned, who knows what is what?
The Republican party, as we speak, in broad daylight, is assembling the means to nullify any and all elections. Knowing full well the story behind the retirements of O’Connor and Kennedy, and the carnage that wrought — do you have the slightest doubt the current SCOTUS won’t abet, with a pen, a coup de grâce to democracy? Even now, one can easily imagine the wording of their decision — signed with a Sharpie.
“If you’re going to cheat, it’s better if you don’t get caught.”
— Yogi Berra
@To RayW. — correction, I intended:
@Is Shelly a Republican dirty trick shop, aka strategist, KGB boiler room, or John Doe
in a Norman Rockwell — how does one know anymore?
Knowing full well the story behind the retirements of O’Connor and Kennedy, and the carnage that wrought — do you have the slightest doubt the current SCOTUS — WILL — abet with a pen, a coup de grâce to democracy? Even now, one can easily imagine the wording of their decision — signed with a Sharpie.
Yogi is always right.
Ray W. says
I have long wondered if our democracy would end and, if so, how it would be accomplished. Remember, there were a significant number of people who were opposed to the idea of a Constitutional democracy, based on republican principles, complete with a strong central government. Those who proposed this experimental form of government knew it had never worked before. They hoped our Constitution would foster men (and women) of virtue, but feared mob rule. This is why they insisted on checks and balances, so that no one political party or politician would ever amass unlimited power for an indeterminate period of time. Our Constitution was barely ratified and an insurrection almost immediately began.
Years ago, I used to engage in banter with a so-called conservative friend and coworker (more of a fringe conservative) who had engaged in protesting the Gore-Bush recount and was outside when others stormed the administration building in So. Florida to forced a halt to the recount for the evening. He kept arguing to me that he was a Federalist. I told him one of us needed to know what we were talking about, so I ordered a lecture series on the framing of the Constitution. After I listened to it, I loaned it to my friend, who had a long commute to the office. After listening to the series, he announced that he realized he was not a Federalist after all; he was an anti-Federalist.
Later, debating the merits of conservatism, I told him I would order a lecture series on the history of the conservative movement, beginning in Great Britain during the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89. After I listened to it, I loaned it to my friend. At first, he would talk about the series, but it trailed off when the series began describing events in the 20th century. He returned the series and I suppose he stopped listening to it when he realized he was not a conservative. Perhaps, it was just too much for him to absorb. I know this is an inference, but imagine the horror when a so-called conservative realizes he or she is not a conservative after all.
As an aside, as I listened to the lecture series, I realized that I was more of a conservative than the so-called conservatives of a decade ago. Now, I know I am far more conservative than the so-called conservatives of today. I encourage all so-called conservatives to order a lecture series, any lecture series, about the history and progress of conservatism in the Western Democracies and study the subject matter. The lecture series I ordered was composed by a highly-respected professor who had carved out a career in his field of study.
Sincerely, thank you for the courtesy of a reply. Considering the value we place on our own finite time on earth, it ought, IMO, never be wasted. And therefore, I respectfully pray you might share a little, more specific, information about the referenced lectures, i.e., title, author/speaker, etc.
Speaking of banter, I am more than slightly amused by your, “Where is Wittgenstein when you need him?” Where, indeed:
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein
It would improve, IMO, all of us beyond measuring.
Again, thank you.
Ray W. says
The Teaching College, at teach12.com. The series are in storage now. I would have to dig them out to get the professors’ names.
Carol C. says
Unfortunately it’s people like you that are the problem. By problem I mean the ones who are making this entire pandemic worse than it has to be with your ignorance causing us reasonable people to suffer and on occasion DIE! Shame! Use common sense and common decency. Care about your fellow citizens instead of just yourself. A simple thing like wearing a mask to protect people around you really shouldn’t be a hard choice. We are supposed to be in this together. United we Stand, Divided we Fall. If we fall it’s on Shelly and the people like her!
Palm Coast Citizen says
Shelly, masks do mitigate the risk, and more than just Fauci has observed this to be the case. The problem is that a new variant of COVID sprang while we were all rest assured that enough people had been vaccinated. All of us, vaccinated or not, were letting our guard down, and as it turns out, Delta can be spread by vaccinated people since their symptoms are often muted.
The author noted that no one was wearing the mask, and the point of the mask isn’t just to protect oneself, but to lessen the chances of spreading it to someone else. We’re are asking our neighbors and friends to wear the mask just in case they’ve contracted it, and we do the same.
God help us.
My heart goes out to you, you are truly in an untenable position. The horrendous leadership or lack of leadership throughout every level in this state is inexcusable.
Angela Biggs says
Just read it and I agree 100%!!! I feel the exact same and think the school board and school administration need to step up and discuss the impending surge that will happen. I feel that so many at school for the last week seemed to think that the pandemic is over. I didn’t leave my room without being masked.
Masks dont work just ask a Trumper.
Agree what Desantis seems to forget is the teachers and the parents. . These young children can carry the virus and pass it on to adults. .
EXACTLY! I’m sending one to elementary school and one to Middle. I am honestly not super concerned about the two of them, but I do know they catch stuff and spread it quickly.
I’m not certain how schools schools can mandate collared shirts, close-toed shoes, and can forbid the color purple, but cannot require a face mask during a pandemic. My middle schooler had to get the TDAP just to enter 7th grade. They can do that, but not require a cloth face covering during a pandemic? Not during all of school–just walking down the hallway and in group settings with other students, at least. Just to reduce the chance of spread. Wash hands, attempt distancing.
They will likely spread it like wild fire–and parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles–all going to be hugging cute little petri dishes!!
Mike Cocchiola says
If teachers, students, and/or staff become ill, it is all on our COVID-monster governor’s scheming claws. His anti-medical science ban on safety measures in schools is purely political. He needs the uneducated, unmasked and unvaccinated Republican base with him to compete for the presidential nomination. For him, it’s a cynical numbers game. Many will get sick and some will die, but he’ll get Florida’s GOP vote.
It is gratifying to hear that four school districts in Florida are defying his cruelty. Would that more, including Flagler, follow their principled lead.
Sigmund Kirk, Esq. says
I think that the FPC teacher is justified with the concerns expressed. Unfortunately, we have a Governor that apparently thinks that he is also a qualified medical professional. He is focused on becoming the next president and will do whatever his campaign strategists advise. The sad thing is that DeSantis’s edicts are causing unneeded death! He has essentially tied the hands of school boards with his staunch opposition to mandatory face mask wearing for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors will end up with the potential for deadly consequences!
While I believe and support state rights, there is a time when the federal government must step in. Our governor has his head so far up his ass, he can’t see what needs to be done to protect the citizens in the state. This is an issue that should not be political. From my perspective, if an individual does not want to get the COVID shots or wear a mask, then they are fair play for whatever happens to them. The old saying “stupid is as stupid does” applies. I have zero compassion or sympathy for them.
Shelly, you are showing an abundance of ignorance. I don’t believe you are an epidemiologist. I would encourage you to think about this. If masks don’t work or are ineffective against spreading germs, why do all surgical teams wear them when performing surgery?
Finally, while reading comments from those that offer opinions on this topic brings to mind a book I recently read “The Death of Expertise” by Tom Nichols. Essentially it highlights the wilderness of ignorance. I guess anybody that lives on social media platforms wholeheartedly believes the disinformation that is spewed on these platforms as being the gospel truth. I think Mark Zuckerberg is correct when he stated that “Facebook was designed to unite folks. Instead, it has divided them”.
If our government refuses to take action when some punk mows down a bunch of elementary school students, what makes you think they give a rat’s behind about protecting them (and especially teachers/staff) during a pandemic?
Kuddos to the author says
Well said, but my fav are the last 3 words of the article:
Stay safe everyone.
Newly Retired Teacher says
I’m very concerned for all the teachers, staff and students! Very concerning, esp with all the changing variants. Being a retired band and chorus director with over 100 students in each, I’d be freaking out!! My advice is for our govenor to hang up on those EX PRESIDENT phone calls. This is getting ridiculous!
Here’s whats going to happen. (A) There is no big outbreak of covid among students and their parents or teachers and DeSantis turns out to be a HERO. (B) Or there is a outbreak among students and teachers and parents causing school to be cut back or home school and DeSantis turns out to be a ZERO and he loses lots of votes and like Trump will not get reelected and complicates any hopes at his goal as leader of the free world. .
Well, I for sure don’t want B to happen. Honestly, politically, he’s in a bit of a pickle, I’d say. Hope he knows what he is doing and isn’t just doing this for politics, because it could be career suicide. Maybe not quite Cuomo level but on that same plane (at least regarding the handling of the pandemic–not the harassment thing).
DeSantis is a clown…I do not think he even cares. And why do the schools have to abide by what he say’s. I know its state money they are concerned about. It is always about money!
Be Safe, and the hell with what the Government says.
Since Florida is already the number ONE state for new Covid infections. . . De Santis is already a failed governor (A ZERO) who should be immediately removed from office for all the unnecessary pain and suffering. Since he is resisting advice from health experts and NOT being a leader that does all in his power to keep us safe and healthy, he should absolutely be held accountable regardless of what happens with the schools.
If that concerned, I would suggest a new job for you outside the teaching profession. Maybe even being a nurse.
Lil bird says
A few questions for the Teacher:
1. Do u micromanage and ask students or fellow colleagues to wash their hands in front of you singing Happy birthday as is recommended after each hall pass since proper handwashing is number one way to prevent spread of this and other viruses and bacteria? Just curious.
2. Multiple vaccines are free, easily available, and 99.9 effective in preventing death for all major variants. Do u believe your vaccine doesn’t work? Or that yours only works if other people are masked? Vaccinated and masked? Outside and 6ft apart? At a protest? At a riot? Etc. Etc. Where does your belief and my reality intersect?
3. Fact– Delta is more contagious but not more deadly. Viruses need a host. Vaccines help prevent you from serious illness but don’t guarantee you from needing to use a sick day (or two). Are you a member of the sick bank at work? If not I recommend speaking with your union rep how to join.
4. If u are actually going to hand out masks are you also also hand out condoms? Just asking. For my kid.
Not the author of the article says
This comment made me laugh, actually. What a joke.
1.??? What exactly are you curious about. “Just curious.”
2. Did you read the article or only paid selective attention to half sentences that you immediately attack without any context. Also: citation needed. Where do you get your figures from? The point of masks is to prevent the masker from spreading disease. Like you said: “effective in preventing death”, which is not the same thing as preventing the spread of the virus. The longer we have this damn virus, the more it will mutate. The world is much bigger than the continental US, not everyone has the same access to vaccines and hospitals and resources that you are privileged to. What exactly do you believe? Do you believe that everyone should all be healthy and free of preventable diseases? Do you? Are you making proactive choices to make that belief into reality?
3. What even is the point of this. Seriously. I get that these are all rhetorical questions that aren’t meant to be actually answered, but this one appears to be irrelevant to the subject at hand.
4. As a former student, that sounds like a great idea. Seriously! The sex ed in our public schools is abysmal, and giving out free condoms would be a great step toward creating a healthier, more supportive environment, especially surrounding a seemingly taboo subject! Why not have free condoms for students? Are you afraid of condoms? Would you rather pay for your condoms instead of getting free ones? Would you rather your kid have unprotected sex? If you’d rather your kid be celibate, how much control do you expect to exert over their lives? If your kid plans to have consensual sex without your knowledge, they should wear condoms. Everyone should. If kids aren’t going to get condoms from their parents, they should get it from somewhere.
Kids, don’t have unprotected sex.
Not Rocket Science says
Congratulations Florida .. Florida currently leads the nation in kids hospitalized for Covid-19.
And with this knowledge in hand our wonderful humane governor sends out a big loud and clear message. We careless about your children. And of course with that comes additional concerns. So how many of you are willing to roll the dice and say “Yes I am willing to play Russian Roulette with my kid’s heath and possibly their life” ? As a parent, an educator, and as a sensible human being I stopped listening to the politics of it. I listen to the front line workers. When I hear the stories of how much they risk and continue to risk it turns my stomach to know we have such “humanity” that people are not willing to take precautions. Have we not learned from our past mistakes? How many more lives must we risk and/or lose? What is the magic number? How many more long haulers do we need to see before we understand the long term outcomes?
Its NOT a political debate, listen to the medical community. Listen to the medical community of other countries that have no political gain from our system. We are our own worst enemy.
Trailer Bob says
Why is this so difficult for so many? Get vaccinated if you wish, wear a mask if you wish, stick with people you have known for a long time.
My wife and I have been vaccinated fully…really no big deal.
I can’t breath with a woodshop blue mask on, and they will not totally stop you from having virus particles enter your lungs. You have to man up and pay for an N95 mask if you are relying on the mask to keep you from getting infected.
And I stay out of Palm Coast.
You just can’t beat country living…no drama here.
Nothing written that says u can’t wear a mask. Get the shot, they are free.