‘Haphazard non-data driven’ decisions get F grade

“Blunt the latest wave” is what we’re being told to do in Ontario. Is this a call for citizens to buy cannabis and roll a fatty to get through this lockdown? Or are we actually trying to make the latest wave less sharp? A wave, sharp? Words matter. What also matters is data, logic, and forethought before making wide-sweeping, seemingly nonsensical decisions. With our vaccination status where it is, we shouldn’t be facing déjà vu.

I understand that the Omicron variant has changed the landscape very quickly, but the modelling data was available in mid-December, and as such, we shouldn’t be getting last-minute, unfounded, knee jerk decisions.

The Dec. 30 announcement stated that schools would reopen two days later than originally planned to get out hepa-filters and masks to staff. Fast-forward less than a week and suddenly we’re pivoting again as parents and teachers, scrambling for childcare; everyone dreading even more screen time for children.

I understand the importance of not overwhelming the health-care system, but why wait until after the Christmas break and New Year’s celebrations to put closures into effect? Many post secondary programs made decisions back in December that classes would not be in person for the first month (U of T for one example), or not in person all term (Sault College for example).

So … the information was out there, but yet our provincial government waited until the day before schools were to open to make this announcement? There is no justification for this, except that perhaps the premier’s golf buddies wanted to hold New Year’s parties without limiting the number of guests in attendance. Alternatively, was the government putting off their math homework until the new year? Regardless, it is clear that they didn’t start their number crunching until after they’d made their first announcement, which is reckless.

With the modified Step 2 lockdown, I also have to ask why do gyms and restaurants have to close but other businesses remain open at 50 per cent capacity? Restaurants and gyms are the only places required to make sure that patrons are double vaxxed, so, as my friend says, why are the people who ate the broccoli now being told that they can’t have any dessert? One option is to go the other way and require more businesses to check vaccination status if we want to “blunt the wave.”

Truly, we need leadership, and a plan.

They’ve had two years to create more hospital beds for the scenario currently looming. Why didn’t they?

They gave out rapid antigen tests (RATs) across the province, but aren’t mandating the use of them to allow students back into the classroom. If someone doesn’t want to do the test, that’s okay, they can learn online. If parents don’t feel confident with school safety, they can also decide that their children can learn online.

A good reason to put classes online for two weeks would be to prioritize all educators to get their booster vaccinations to prepare them for face-to-face learning. This should be in tandem with a concerted push to get as many elementary students vaccinated in those two weeks. Neither is happening.

I appreciate that the health-care system is fragile and can’t be overwhelmed by a “tsunami” of patients, but if planning doesn’t happen for the education system, it will be the next system completely engulfed by the wave’s undertow.

Anyone ever heard the saying: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Is now really the time to stop having schools report COVID cases amid the largest wave of cases yet? As parents, how do we make an informed decision about when it is safe to send our children back to school when schools no longer have to report outbreaks to the ministry? How will students know if they feel comfortable returning to school? How will teachers know if work is unsafe, and they have a right to refuse it (or is that the point)?

Where was our Minister of Education during the latest announcement? Does he have COVID, but he doesn’t have to report it because he’s in education, or was he just dodging the inevitable questions for him?

I agree that hospitals need to be able to keep up with “demand,” but how that is accomplished is the real issue. Seriously, what data is being used to make these decisions? I’ve yet to see gyms and restaurants as major contributors to community spread. Why did it take so long to make these school decisions, leaving parents and teachers scrambling?

We want schools open; but we want them safe. Sadly, these modified Step 2, haphazard non-data driven, decisions are beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day.

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