The other day, following a press conference Zoom call by Virginia Republicans demanding that schools open for “five days of learning [per week] for all students” this fall, I posted recent poll numbers, indicating that only a very small minority (20% of Americans) “support fully reopening school buildings in the fall, while most Americans either want to reopen partially or not open at all.” Also from that polling: “Nearly two in three parents say schools should be among the last to reopen to keep our kids and communities healthy, and roughly the same say they are on the side of those who are being ‘more cautious’ about reopening schools.” Among the Republicans participating in that press conference was Virginia State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico County). Sure, Dunnavant is a Republican, but she’s also a physician, so you’d think she’d understand the importance of taking measures to crush this virus, not doing anything to spread it further, and not endangering people’s health and lives.
Note, by the way, that the rest of the world is “shocked” at America’s failure in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that America is increasingly an outlier compared to other countries, many/most of which “have managed to avoid the kind of dramatic viral resurgence that is happening in America.” A big part of the problem in this country, of course, is the Trump administration. Secondarily, it’s anti-science Republicans who refuse to take measurers that health experts have been telling us are effective, and which have been demonstrated as effective in many other countries.
Which brings us back to Dunnavant, a Republican but also a physician – so you’d think she would respect science, if nothing else. Yet this morning, on WRVA Newsradio, Dunnavant doubled down on her…uh, thoughts about COVID-19 and what to do about schools. Here’s a sampling:
- “I think what we have is that we have numbers being reported that sound dramatic and incite fear but they don’t help us analyze what’s actually happening…” Huh?
- “To me, as a physician…this particular issue with coronavirus is absolutely unbearable, because the data is so massively clear that coronavirus is not a significant risk. 190 children died from the flu last year, 30 children have died from coronavirus.” And how about teachers? school staff? the parents and grandparents kids come home to every day, and potentially spread this deadly virus to?
- “The American Academy of Pediatrics, to be completely honest, is an incredibly liberal organization…This is a serious issue and it upsets me so much that parents are being incited for reasons not based on the best interest of their own children but because of an ambition for teachers unions, for misinformation, misinterpretation of the data…” OK, we get it, Dunnavant hates teachers unions.
- “For me to watch this transpire, where our kids are being disregarded…in favor of political inciting on fear that is unfounded….the data always changes…to make assumptions based on fear with data that’s been manipulated, it’s just egregious, honestly.” Actually, what’s egregious is Dunnavant being so irresponsible, even though she presumably knows better.
- “When I look at the children…I’m not saying every child has to be back in school, bricks and mortar; we are a parental rights state…Any parent that didn’t want their child to be in school for whatever reason…has the option to do virtual education...that same choice, I believe, is available to teachers…I’m not saying force anybody to do anything...” Right, she’s not trying to force anyone to do anything, except that she’s demanding schools open five days a week, which of course will require teachers, admninistrators, custodians, etc, etc. to be present as well. How’s that going to work exactly? If Dunnavant knows, she’s not explaining.