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For the second time I am referring you to an editorial in a different publication, this time written by a Cornell University sophomore, John Ashbrook, in the Cornell Daily Sun (click here to read his editorial) -- if you limit yourself to one editorial per week read his, not mine.  Because the reason I am not buying Cornell's scientific and strict social approach to reopening is that it doesn't factor one variable that everyone with a jot of common sense knows: kids will be kids.  Even kids smart enough to get into Cornell have a piece of stupid that is normal for their age.  I had it.  You had it (or have it, depending on who is reading this).  It's not a mystery.  It's part of growing up.

A well known piece of that stupid is that kids feel invulnerable in many ways.  And they don't necessarily think about consequences, which makes Ashbrook's editorial all the more laudable. I'm not talking about COVID deniers.  Those folks are an unforgivable adult kind of stupid.  I'm talking about the kind of stupid that kids are supposed to be at that age.  It's not their fault.  It's up to adults to acknowledge that and plan for it.  We have already seen the sort of unintended consequences he warns of, from the federal level all the way to our local level.

Think about it.  Despite very real financial struggling caused by the pandemic our school district tax rate went up again this year.  Not by a lot, but right now every penny matters.  At the same time, the State more than doubled its $6 billion deficit in dealing with the virus, and is cutting school aid to the point where the Lansing schools may be facing more cuts even though they started the year with cuts made in anticipation of less state aid.  Not only that, but the Lansing school district is spending about a half million dollars on COVID prevention supplies and equipment, staff training, and other measures to try to keep the school population, including, as Ashbrook so compellingly points out, faculty, staff and their families.  The district has to spend the money to comply with state rules for being open.

Since everyone stayed home and stores were closed, sales tax significantly decreased, causing projected shortages, which in the case of Lansing, already means, for example, less road paving this year.

Both the Town and School District of Lansing are in good financial shape, but are being cautious as they closely watch their overall revenue picture.  But what about other municipalities and school districts that were struggling before the pandemic (which is most of them)?  And if as small a district as Lansing has to spend a half million on pandemic mitigation, what are larger districts spending?  And where is that money comping from?  And how many jobs are being lost or reduced because schools, municipalities, and businesses have no choice but to lay their workers off?

On the state level alone we are looking at billions of dollars in reduced revenue from income tax, sales tax, business tax, the state lottery, and other state gaming.  In May a Newsday article projected an 8.1 billion loss, or 14% of the New York State's revenue.  In Tompkins County they're taking about 20% less sales tax revenue.

And when the Health Department reports outbreaks of the virus, two causes stand out: unprotected social gatherings and travel.  Travel is understandable on many levels, but unprotected social gatherings --there is no excuse.  And in some cases it proves that some of us never grow out of that late teens/early twenties stupid.

Have a look at the Tompkins County Health Department's COVID statistics.  Scroll down.  Keep scrolling.  A little more.  On September 3rd, for the first time in nearly seven months, the spike in active cases was significant enough that a link to a press release is added to the spreadsheet.  Four days later active COVID cases in the County reached a record high.  Gee, what was happening on and around September 3?  (Read it for yourself)

Even though some stupid stuff is destructive, or, at best, aggravating, we do want kids to be kids.  That's what they are and that's what they're supposed to be.  Any plan that does not take this into consideration as a major factor is a bad plan, or, I don't think it is unfair to say, a stupid plan.  So I am not blaming the kids.  I blame the adults.  You have to go through stuff to learn from it.  That's part of growing up.  How can professionals who work with young people every day not know this?

One of my relatives, a college freshman, went to an unprotected social gathering, and guess what she got?  She went home to recover and to quarantine.  Her mother is especially vulnerable because of major heart issues.  This certainly brought home to me that this isn't just some 'it can't happen to us' kind of thing.  (I won't leave you hanging -- she was confined to her room -- food was left outside her door for two weeks.  Both she and her mom are OK.)  My relative is a bright young person.  'Bright person' is in that, but so is 'young person'.  As far as I know she doesn't want to kill her mother. But that was a very real possibility.

What is remarkable in that spreadsheet is that there have only been two COVID-19 related deaths since the Health Department began tracking statistics in March, and those two had been shipped up from overburdened downstate hospitals.  So no Tompkins County residents have died from this thing.  That is not to say that it couldn't happen.

I'm picking on Cornell a bit, but it is not unique.  I am not seeing much thought to 'kids will be kids' in any of the hopeful school reopening plans on any level, nation wide.  I see a lot of justification, including socialization is especially important in certain age groups, and strict enforcement of codes of behavior.  But 'kids will be kids?  Nope, not hearing anything about that.

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