Two of my wife’s close friends have decided to retire from teaching. They’re both in their early sixties, have been at it a long time, and are probably representative of many veteran (and not-so-veteran) teachers who don’t want to risk their lives returning to classrooms during the pandemic. Nor are they interested in conducting classes via Zoom, which involves no personal interaction with the kids. They’re disappointed, having enjoyed being educators for decades, but feel the fun and excitement of working with students are so much less in remote learning sessions that the job is not worth their while any longer. What a shame.

My daughter is facing a similar dilemma. She’s been accepted to graduate school, which is scheduled to begin right after Labor Day. Two of her classes will be conducted in person, while one will be exclusively online. Does she want to risk sitting in a room with a couple dozen other students, not knowing how well they’re following health guidelines? On the other hand, does she want to spend so much money to listen to a lecture over an internet video connection, where the opportunity to interact with the professor and her fellow students will be limited?

Contrast those questions to this recent statement from Missouri Governor Mike Parson regarding the re-opening of schools: “These kids have got to get back to school…. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals…. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it.” Parson is a Trump acolyte who doesn’t understand science, so he denies it, choosing instead to believe the lies (including that COVID-19 isn’t harmful to young people) and ignoring the fact that if youngsters go home with the virus, they’ll infect everyone they live with. This is the same lack of leadership that has kept him from issuing a must-wear-masks order for the state, even as the number of cases and deaths continues to rise.

Meanwhile, Missouri has decided to let all voters cast ballots by mail, but with a catch: they will have to be notarized. That means that all of us who have remained under a self-imposed lockdown in our houses would have to venture out to a bank or library or some other facility (which is inside) to find someone to attest to our identity on paper. That’s an unnecessary extra obstacle, yet another effort to make voting harder. Missouri should follow the lead of states that have been voting by mail for years (Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Utah) with no notarization requirement — and no fraud problems!

As baseball exhibitions have begun, the players are getting tested for COVID-19 every two days. But how long does it take to get their results? I have two friends who had the nasal swab done recently and then had to wait eight days before the lab report came back. Fortunately, they were both negative, but if they’d been positive, wasn’t that too long a period to discern whether they carried a very infectious disease? Why do athletes get special preference over the rest of the population?

As I did curbside pickup of a pizza from our favorite place this weekend, I noticed a lot of people going inside to eat. Since St. Louis County has a must-mask law, everyone wore theirs on the way in. But as soon as the food got to their tables, they took off their facial covers to eat — as they continued to converse with their table-mates, thus expelling respiratory droplets into the air that everyone then breathed in without protection. Seeing this only reinforced my determination to stay out of restaurants, although we continue to patronize them for to-go orders.

Americans have been banned from entering the Bahamas. If this keeps up, the Beach Boys will have to re-record “Kokomo,” but leave out the names of all the other countries.

I’ll leave you today with this question: Has the rest of the world started referring to the USA as a shithole country yet?