The teachers unions are at it again. It looks like they will refuse to return to the classroom in the fall, this time with the excuse some students may be unvaccinated. The largest teachers’ union in Florida actually supports school vouchers — provided they stop at age 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) Ted S. Warren

Teachers unions’ zero COVID-risk demand makes zero sense

Washington Examiner July 02, 12:01 AM July 02, 12:01 AM

The teachers unions are at it again. It looks like they will refuse to return to the classroom in the fall, this time with the excuse some students may be unvaccinated.

That’s how we interpret the latest business item on the National Education Association’s agenda that would amount to a national teachers’ strike in the fall if approved because there is no way every student will be vaccinated by the first day of school.

It’s an unreasonable demand that the risk of coronavirus diminish to zero before life returns to normal.

Along the same lines, countries including Ireland, Israel, and Australia experiencing new outbreaks due to the COVID-19 delta variant are either locking down again or pausing their reopening.

Los Angeles County has instructed fully vaccinated residents to continue wearing masks indoors.

There are two deep misperceptions behind these reactions.

The first is a false assumption, undermined by all available data and experience, that the delta variant poses a serious threat to vaccinated people. It doesn’t. Vaccines have proven extremely effective against the variant, and almost all vaccinated people who test positive are either asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms.

The second mistake is more foundational. It’s a demand for zero: Zero COVID and zero risk. Australia’s re-lockdown comes from its misguided effort to ensure the entire continent is free of the virus. The teachers unions’ resistance to reopening schools fully in the fall is based on an untenable demand for zero risk.

The goalpost shifting throughout the pandemic has become a sad and familiar story. Fifteen days to stop the spread became just a little longer to flatten the curve, which soon morphed into as soon as we have the vaccines to the still undefined goal of achieving herd immunity. Now the least risk-averse people on the planet seem keen to achieve zero coronavirus cases, a goal that isn’t just pointless but also dangerous.

For starters, the vaccines work. In what constitutes a medical miracle, the United States has three vaccines — all designed, tested, and manufactured within a year — that seem to prevent sickness with the virus almost entirely. COVID skeptics balked at early panic over the virus by falsely claiming it was just like the flu. But for a fully vaccinated person, that’s actually what the rare symptomatic coronavirus infection feels like.

The delta variant is more contagious than previous strains, but it is not proving vaccine-resistant.

Delta isn’t a reason to restore the soul-crushing and unproven lockdowns. Instead, it’s an additional reason to get vaccinated. The numbers make it clear: If you are vaccinated, the rare chance of getting coronavirus will likely culminate with either negligible or non-existent symptoms.

That’s the goal: to make coronavirus endemic and mostly harmless. The insane goal of zero COVID-19 is ignorant.

Only two diseases in history have ever been eradicated. Just one of which, smallpox, was capable of infecting humans. COVID-19 will always be with us, but it is progressively becoming less of a threat. We do not demand that all threats — traffic deaths, crime, sports accidents — go to zero. We realize some mitigation measures are worse than the problems they solve.

We must ignore the teachers who demand we bar the schoolhouse doors until there is zero risk of spread in school. And we must actively rebuke those who demand we attain zero COVID-19 in the U.S.

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