COVID-19 and us — 6.12.20

A Few, Not So Random, Thoughts on COVID-19, the Police and School

Yes, I’m going to keep wearing my mask while I’m in public and around people. If I get seriously ill, my wife is in trouble because her health issues mandate 24-hour care. If she gets gets COVID-19, she probably won’t survive.

This summer, we stay home and wear a mask in public. And, if you don’t wear one, STAY AWAY!

The Police

I believe that the police, or someone who performs their functions, are a necessary evil.

Given the above, de-funding the police will not accomplish anything positive. Are reforms necessary? Yes, most certainly.

What Reforms?

I’d like to propose two reforms.

First, there is a need to better screen those we recruit and train to be members of our police departments. We need to make sure that those who become policemen, and policewomen, are primarily, if not exclusively, interested in helping people. Those who, for whatever reasons, need to bully people must be weeded out. We must screen out those who are inclined to throw around their authority and hide behind its badge and who lie to cover up their mistakes.

Think lying is not a problem facing our police departments? Look first at the videos currently circulating on the internet, and then think of how many times your friends complained about a run-in with the police in which they claimed the police lied about what they did. (I would imagine most of us know someone who was given a traffic ticket they didn’t deserve because the traffic cop lied. Maybe, it’s happened to you. Did the cop actually lie? If the cop lied about something small like a u-turn, missed stop sign, unsafe lane change, what would stop him/her from lying about an assault or firing a weapon?)

We need honest police who believe that violence is a last resort, not a first response.


Second, we must de-militarize our police departments. Police departments are not armies and police are not soldiers. The primary purpose of the police is to protect a community and its people. The primary purpose of an army is to, using extreme violence, destroy an opposing army.

When a police department becomes an army, the people it is supposed to protect become the enemy. If you doubt this, look at any recent, or not so recent, video of police behavior at rallies in which people are exercising their rights to assemble and protest. Yes, like the right to bear arms, the right to protest is a right protected by the U.S. Constitution.

And, maybe, we should give the police a chance to become members of the community they are hired to protect. How about we subsidize their purchase of housing in the cities they work. Beginning officers aren’t going to be able to afford to live in high priced cities like San Francisco or Newport Beach. If they lived among those they policed, might they better identify with those they came into contact with? And, again maybe, have them park their cars and walk around the neighborhoods they patrol. Once or twice (or, maybe, more often) a year knock on people’s doors, introduce themselves and ask about the community. Make the police us and not them.


Ghads, the more I think about making schools ready for the 2020-2021 school year, the more I want to laugh or cry.

Social distancing? Take a class of forty students and set it up for social distancing and you have a class of fewer than twenty. If you give teachers the same 240 students, they must now teach twelve classes. (No, this is not a fantasy. During most of my forty year career, my classes had 35-40 students and I taught six classes each day.)

More classes? Or, shorter classes but teachers are still responsible for students learning the same material? Students coming to school every other day? On-line school on the other days?

Do you know any teachers who are looking forward to teaching under COVID-19 conditions next year? How about, do you know any teachers who have just retired and are breathing a sigh of extreme relief?

How about, do you know any teachers who are considering early retirement because they, belatedly, see what is coming?

Remember, the economy tanked and tax receipts will be down, school budgets will be down; teachers will get fewer supplies and salaries and benefits may, will, be re-negotiated.

More work, lower salary — they all have college degrees; do you think many of them may look for work in some other profession?

Can you imagine being a newbie, first-year teacher, just beginning his or her career under these conditions? I can and still cannot decide whether to laugh or cry.

California State Department of Education

Cal-Ed recently published a guide on how to open schools in the Age of COVID-19. What’s in it? A lot of educational and bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. Don’t believe me? Read it yourself.

In essence it says local districts are responsible for everything, reasonably practical or not, with no realistic how-tos.

Typical response like Donald John: I take no responsibility; handle it at the local level. I imagine it will devolve to individual schools and teachers, like most things educational do. They have no real authority but have all of the responsibility and will take all of the blame when (not if, in my humble opinion) things don’t work out.

My take: by October everyone gives up and things go back to the way they were last October (pre-COVID-19), come heck, high water, illness and death.

COVID-19 and us — 5.17.20


Well, here we are in the middle of May and the novel coronavirus is still with us. Tens of thousands are getting it for the first time and some are getting it for the second (or third?) time. Thousands are dying of it every single day.


In fact, more than a thousand are dying of coronavirus in the United States every day. As I am writing this, Johns Hopkins University says there have been 89,399 deaths in this country. At the current rate we’ll be well over 100,000 deaths before June.

As America begins to re-open without a vaccine for the coronavirus the number of cases will probably rise. People who have been cooped up in their homes and apartments and not exposed to the virus will come into contact with others who have the virus (but not the symptoms). The virus will spread. The more people come into contact with others, the faster the spread.

One sees the videos of people crowded into restaurants and bars, without facemasks, and wonders who among them have the virus. There’s no “V” on the foreheads of those infected. You just can’t tell — it’s a crapshoot. Take your chances; get infected and take it back to your wife and kids (significant other, roommate, parents, etc.).


They think it won’t (can’t) happen to them. Hey, less than one-half of one percent of the people in the US have COVID-19. Odds are they won’t get it.

Well, that’s not quite the case. Only 1.5 million people have been hospitalized or tested positive for the virus. With the limited testing we have there’s no telling how many people actually have the virus and are capable of spreading it to infect others.

But, let us go ahead and use the 1.5 million figure. That’s about one of every two hundred people in this country. How many people do you come in contact with each day you go and eat in a restaurant, drink in a bar or sit in a salon, hairdresser or barbershop? Five, ten, fifteen, more?

How about we say ten? After twenty days, you’ve come in contact with two hundred people. What are the odds now?

You’re a barber and cut the hair of twenty people a day, none of whom wear masks; in ten days you’ve come in close contact with two hundred people. Of course, there are two other barbers in the shop and they also cut people’s hair. How many people, in total, are you in close contact with in our large and roomy barbershops.

Nail salons. My wife typically spends an hour to an hour and a half getting her nails, fingers and toes, done. The same at her hair stylist. Talk about close contact.

How many people a day does a bartender, supermarket checker, factory worker, coffee shop/sandwich shop employee come into contact with?


Perhaps, we should consider schools — elementary and secondary.

During my teaching career, my classes averaged thirty-five to forty students each. Not bad huh? Well, I taught six classes each day and it’s not much different today in middle/junior and senior high school.

You want schools to re-open? Deal with those numbers.

Schools — Thinking about next year

Schools — During my last decade of teaching, one of my classrooms was in a “temporary” structure. It was the kind of pre-fab you see dotting campuses all across SoCal.

I was teaching 7th grade History in that room. In terms of the number of students that meant forty desks with class sizes ranging from thirty-six to forty-two. Yes, forty-two with a couple of kids sitting in chairs until class schedule adjustments could be made to get the number back down to forty.

There wasn’t much room to move around, less than a desk’s width between rows, the last desks in the rows hard against the back wall. The room also included a teacher’s desk and room to enter (via the one door) and a half dozen free feet in the front of the class to get from the entry to the rows of desks and room for the teacher to move across the room and use the whiteboard.

COVID-19 spacing

Now, let’s assume that we take out the teacher’s desk and add eight desks to the room. That makes forty-eight student desks and very little room in which to move around. If we take out half of the desks, we will get about four and a half feet between students.

Since I cannot say that I remember the exact dimensions of that classroom, let us say that twenty-four desks, evenly spaced, actually gives us six feet between students and adequate room for the teacher to conduct ordinary instruction and other class business. We can now use that classroom, and others of similar size throughout the state, for teaching in a “social-distanced” educational environment. (My wife’s classroom in Santa Ana had a similar square footage with a like number of students.)

What does this mean?

If teachers have similar student loads to their pre-COVID-19 classes (total number of students for whom they are responsible), a typical middle/junior/senior high teacher (five or six classes, 200-240 students) will now have to teach eight to ten classes.

  • Ten classes per day?
  • Shorter classes and/or longer days?
  • Staggered, alternate day, schedules?
  • Hiring more teachers?
  • Building more classrooms?

How about K-6 classes where teachers have the same students all day long? They have similar size problems. When you space the students out, you decrease the number of students per teacher and class.

Do you now cut the classroom hours and have the teachers teach one group in the morning and another in the afternoon? You both increase the number of hours the teacher teaches and decrease the number of instructional hours for the students. Or, perhaps you introduce staggered/alternate day schedules, which also cuts the number of instructional hours for the students.

Of course, you could build more classrooms and hire more teachers.

This means more money: construction, salaries, health benefits.

No, I haven’t forgotten the hit we’ve taken to our economy with the shutdown and loss of employment — this means decreased tax revenues and school district budgets.


Donald John wants schools to re-open next month; Gavin thinks maybe July/August. Seriously? When are we going to have public discussions about the mechanics and financing of it all? Or are we just going to muddle through, schedule things as we did last year and see what happens?

If this doesn’t give you enough concerns, walk over to your child’s school and imagine it in a social-distanced world (at least, for next year).

Oh, yeah, almost forgot, we’ll also have to increase hours for classified employees in order to keep deep cleaning the schools — or do you think current standards are good enough?

And, how about pre-school?

Not scared yet? Think IEPs.

COVID-19 and us — 4.06.20

COVID-19 now seems to be the current determinant in our lives. It keeps us at home and away from our friends and jobs. When we are out amongst them, it forces us to keep our distance from each other. There are lines at grocery stores and temperature checks at medical centers.

One becomes disgusted, or more so than before, at politicians and office holders who offer nothing but self-serving verbiage. Ghads, the current POTUS makes even W seem to have been almost competent. James Buchanan must be smiling that he is no longer considered, by me at least, to be our worst president.

Home and Doctors

Di and I have stayed at home most of the time. We haven’t been taking many drives to calm her nerves and have been to the doctor’s only once in the last two weeks.

On the 31st we saw her rheumatologist for her twice yearly Prolia shot. Following the injection we went upstairs to the lab and had blood drawn (a ten minute wait and two vials). A day or two later the doctor called and said the results were good and she would see Di again in six months.

All the rest of our medical/dental appointments have been moved to May or June for re-scheduling, as have Di’s hair (I cut my own hair.) and nail appointments.

Most of the food I usually purchase is again in stock at most markets, although paper products are in short supply (and missing altogether at Target).

The pharmacies are open and have our meds.


I went shopping yesterday afternoon. First to Trader Joe’s and there was a line fifteen or twenty people deep — all of us six feet apart standing behind taped lines on the walkway. Had to take my re-usable bags back to the car as they weren’t allowed in the store — TJ’s paper bags without charge. Bought a hundred dollars worth of goods (most I’ve spent there without buying alcohol) so I won’t have to return for a week instead of my usual two or three visits for fresh stuph each week. They even had kleenex and toilet paper — in limited quantities.

All employees were wearing face masks and gloves.

I then drove to Von’s and picked up some meds for Di and a couple of loaves of the bread she likes. Oh, yeah, the Starbucks inside was open and I got her a white hot chocolate with whipped cream, her fave. One barista had on a facemask and the other did not. Some Von’s employees had masks, others not, go figure. And, they allowed re-usable bags.


Last Tuesday our cleaners came as usual. The gardener came on Thursday and the home care service called yesterday to say that Di’s caregiver would be here, as usual, on Wednesday.

It began raining last night/early this morning and is supposed to continue off and on until Thursday — the lawn, trees, flowers and Di and I appreciate it.

Di’s family is getting together once or twice a week on Zoom. Noon here for Di and David and eight in the evening for Tricia and Helen in England.

Mist and Smoke are in Di’s room sleeping curled up together on a window chair and Di is watching TV in her new recliner. I’ll fix her a fortified milkshake for dinner tonight. For myself, lima beans and a largish baked potato.

One more thing to do before dinner. Update the medical sheets I print out periodically with our medicines and doctors names and phone numbers. Di’s is up to date in the computer but I need to do mine. I have to include a few notes about her condition so. If I get unexpectedly taken to Emergency people will know about Di and be able to have her, and the cats, taken care of. Remember folks, the only precautions and preparations you’ll ever regret are those you didn’t take and should have.

Stay healthy.

COVID-19 and us — 3.26.20


It’s a few minutes before 1:00 pm here in breezy, sunny SoCal. Yesterday’s video-conference with my cardiologist went fine. Although my ascending aortic aneurysm has slightly increased in size, it is not yet large enough to warrant surgery. So, an increase in my meds by half a tablet/day and another CT scan in six months. Oh, and keep checking my blood pressure and heart rate, which I do on my Omron.


With Di’s caregiver looking after her I went shopping after the video-conference. First to Old World for some day old Farmers Bread and some of their fine liverwurst. I didn’t notice the sign and box as I entered and was admonished to don a pair of gloves while in the shopping. OK. I didn’t have to spend any of my money as I had three gift cards (spend $5 and get a $10 gift card) — it pays to check one’s email for offers like these.

Then it was off to the beach for lunch. The city parking lots were closed along with the pier and pier plaza but the beach was open.

The Beach

I stopped at TK’s for a Big Bargain Special (burger and fries). The chairs and tables were in storage and fix-up work was being done but they were still serving take-out food. I parked along PCH (parking sticker was still good at the meters) and walked across the parking lot at Tower 17 and ate on the sand wall.

There was a steady stream of walkers, joggers and bikers along the path but the numbers weren’t large — a half dozen people per minute, maybe. Within view of my seat there were three homeless tents and belongings, all on the city beach. To my pleasant surprise the restrooms were open as I needed to get rid of some of the morning’s coffee.

More Shopping

Went to Von’s and picked up Di’s meds and some of their bread that she favors. I was going to also do some shopping at TJ’s and Target, picking up a white hot chocolate for Di at the Starbucks in Target, but I’d been gone for a couple of hours and decided to get the hot chocolate at the Von’s Starbucks and stop at home before finishing my errands — good choice, at the Starbucks in Target was closed.

I went to Pet Supply to get cat treats and some food as our Chewy shipment was being delayed a few days.

Picked up some vitamins for Di at Target — they were still out of TP and Kleenex; I mean the shelves were completely empty.

Trader Joe’s was limiting amounts of some items and the number of people in the store at one time — I had to wait for about five minutes to be let in. Most things were available, although some were clearly in short supply. Bananas – check, cheese – check, milk – check, creamer – check and so on. Until the paper aisle. No TP, no paper towels and no Kleenex. Ah, well, I wasn’t out of any of those but Di uses a lot of Kleenex and we’re down to three unopened boxes.

Got home and shortly thereafter Di’s caregiver left.


Oh, our gardener came while I was gone, he usually comes on Thursday. I doubt he’s in an occupation considered “essential” but I’m glad he’s still working. I don’t believe he is any danger to us and I doubt he has enough saved to get through this situation without working.

Well, it’s about time for Di’s video-conference with her brother and sisters . . . Stay safe my friends.