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THE SUMMER OF OUR DISCONTENT

Lake Geneva, and the other communities, can take a punch. The punch taken that proved that is one everyone remains fully aware of to this day. That punch, the punch of the Coronavirus (COVID19) struck ever so slowly back in February of 2020, and the follow-through from it is still shaking, roiling, and reverberating through every bit of every scene, situation and action occurring anywhere and everywhere around Geneva Lake.

About the only normalcy to be found is in boating. The boats are taken out daily, as the summer begins to wane, and almost all rentals are rented out during daylight hours, whether it’s a weekday or a weekend. Although the county, with a population just over 124,000 has only suffered the death of 26 patients due to the effects of the virus (almost all older citizens who have died while inpatients at elderly care facilities), the effects of the public’s reaction to the virus have been stunning, almost all-inclusive and financially unsustainable over the long term. The wearing of masks has been pretty heavily resisted in the county, possibly because such a high percentage of the Walworth County citizenry is likely republican (Walworth voted 60% for Trump in 2016), and the conservative part of the county appears to not believe in the benefits of wearing such devices.

Wisconsin requires masks to be worn in almost all indoor situations and a good number of outdoor ones too. However, when out in public, at almost any gathering place, indoor or outdoor, the number of masks that can be seen is minimal. The evidence of the virus hitting hard in the city, including in all the communities surrounding it, is minimal and the evidence of the reaction to the virus economically is equally quiet and cloaked. Businesses, except for boat rentals and some of the re-opened restaurants, have been brutally and bitterly damaged. Business has not sprung back, following the re-opening of Wisconsin.

Schools are set to open, but there is no guarantee that teachers will show up or that parents will send kids to such contained places. Online education is also proving about as effective in replacing regularly attended school as the wearing of masks by the general public. Many children have no means to access the Internet properly, teachers are not set up to teach through the medium, and there’s almost no way that children can be left at home without people to guide and supervise them. Parents must work. Eventually, almost all parents must work, and the elementary and high school systems of the United States, the largest and most effective in the world is not yet capable of making such a transition.

Testing alone is a serious issue. Not the testing that goes along with the virus. I’m writing about analytical testing to assure that students are getting and remembering the data. How do the teachers and schools assure that the actual student is taking any particular test, and without assistance? Testing is the primary way that teachers can measure progress in learning. The other way is through close association with students as they do the work of study, exercise, and display of what they have learned. The teachers come to know the students, their habits, their problems, and their motivations. Without contact, none of that can take place. The Internet through WiFi is a distant cold and barren plain of information racing back and forth over it like herds of very tiny buffalo. There’s little or no emotion that can take place in online education situations. Therefore, teachers cannot truly know their students. The nation’s reaction to the virus may well pay the greatest price of all, not from economic loss and brutal killing of many members of the lower classes of society, but by the fact that real education is fast becoming something that only can be assigned to a lost golden age. The celebration of ignorance is upon us all if students can no longer be tested accurately, have direct physical contact with other students, or with their teachers.

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