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MLB’s COVID Outbreaks Cast Higher Doubt Over School Reopenings

The long-awaited return of the “core four” American sports led off with Major League Baseball on July 23rd. In the 10 days since, we’ve seen Trump vs. Fauci first-pitch drama make its way to the diamond. More disconcerting, we’ve also seen COVID outbreaks sideline 6 of the league’s 30 teams this past weekend, and a warning that the MLB season could be shut down without improvement in containing COVID-19.

So far, the NBA and NHL “bubble” experiments have fared better, and questions loom for the NFL’s kickoff in September. But outside of sports — school officials, business owners, and everyday Americans are still pondering if and how to “safely” resume their normal lives. If pro sports teams and their robust testing and safety protocols couldn’t avoid an outbreak, how can everybody else?

On the topic of schools, Adrienne LeFrance of The Atlantic didn’t mince words this weekend when she wrote “This Push to Open Schools Is Guaranteed to Fail.” And if you look at the estimated risk schools will take on by re-opening, can we really expect any other outcome for our country?

What it comes down to is Leadership and the qualities that people are looking for in leaders right now. Our own CSIP findings point to Looking after People and Workers, Being Careful, Communicating, and a Roadmap for What’s Next as top qualities that Americans want leaders to be focusing on and exhibiting.

However, if you look at what’s happened so far in MLB and the jump ball we’re seeing in the debate around Schools, we’re not seeing enough effective leadership — not by a long shot. Last week the NYC Public Schools, the largest school district in the country, submitted a “plan” that was largely insufficent. Gov. Cuomo’s team went on to say “it looks like an outline, not a plan” and noted it was just 30 pages, while smaller school districts submitted much lengthier plans.

The virus isn’t going to magically disappear in time for September. We need to contain it, and the strategy to get there should come from the top. Last week the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released an eleven-point plan for A Way Forward on COVID-19. Whether or not this plan is the answer or will even be adopted is to be determined, but at least it’s a plan.