Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 68° Clear

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. Learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column.

Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Robert Archer: To avoid a redo of the 2020-21 school year, listen to science

By Robert Archer

By Robert Archer

Staring and talking into the virtual black hole of a computer screen while maybe, just maybe, having a single student per class turn on his/her camera so that I know what s/he actually looks like; doing my best Ferris-Bueller-teacher impersonation by calling a student’s name over and over, hoping for literally any response, any sign of life from that student; having students “in class” sometimes only 92 minutes per week (almost exactly one third of the time normally given to weekly class time) while somehow trying to deliver critical content for their learning; hoping students complete literally any assigned work, no matter how simplistic it was or how much extra non-class time was given to them – any way you look at it, this last school year was excruciatingly frustrating for teachers.

And for as much anxiety and anger I experienced as a teacher, I will absolutely grant that it was, at times, unequivocally worse for parents and students. School year 2020-21 was a year that will, to borrow a phrase, “live in infamy.”

However, having said all of that about this last school year, I have a dire warning for Spokane-area parents: We’re about to have a second year much like that one, with all of its necessary medical restrictions (and, yes, such restrictions are absolutely necessary in the face of a deadly pandemic), if many of you do not wake up right now and start believing in and listening to science. So very many of you need to stop listening to the deadly misinformation that is vomiting forth from your favorite conspiracy-laden Fox News talking heads and your fully self-serving hyper-conservative politicians (none of whom are professional scientists and all of whom have been fully vaccinated, by the way) and start listening to nonpartisan, apolitical, agenda-less, data-driven science.

And that directive, sadly, may be a particularly long long-shot in our area, since a new Gallup poll shows that a paltry 45% of today’s staunchly red voters have “confidence” in science. And Spokane, as we know, much like many similar-sized cities, especially throughout the southeastern United States, is predominately red. In fact, just like those southeastern cities, Spokane’s vaccination rate is woeful; we are at 41.6% even though our state has, thankfully, reached the 70% mark as a whole.

Our county’s pathetically low vaccination number is particularly foreboding. The new “highly transmissible” Delta variant of COVID, which accounts for 83% of all new cases, is officially creating a new health crisis in our country, and that crisis, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, is solely a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Right now, unvaccinated people make up over 97% of Americans hospitalized for severe symptoms of the virus and 99.5% of the deaths from COVID. And those numbers are coming from those very cities that have vaccination rates of around 40% and lower (See “Spokane.”).

Moreover, a new CDC report found that “breakthrough” cases (i.e., when a fully vaccinated person becomes infected with COVID-19) may occur in only 0.01% of fully vaccinated people; to put that number in perspective, that’s only 1 person out of 10,000 fully vaccinated people who would even catch COVID at all.

These numbers (which are, to repeat, thoroughly nonpartisan) make the situation crystal clear, even for a city that bleeds political red. In fact, I’ll allow the expert, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, to do the talking: “Vaccination is our leading public health strategy to stop the Delta variant and bring case rates down.”

So allow me to warn Spokane parents again right now: If we do have to return to very restrictive school measures this year in the name of public health and safety, and if you and your children are not immunocompromised and still have refused to be vaccinated (for whatever nonsensical reason), then you have zero right to complain. Zero! It would literally be you who are the direct cause of the oppressive restrictions against which you rail so hypocritically.

Nobody wants a redo of the 2020-21 school year. Listen to science, and stop politicizing a life-saving vaccine, and none of us will have to experience that hell again.

Robert Archer is an English teacher at Shadle Park High School.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.