Tuesday was especially quiet at the Star office. Main Street seemed less busy than usual, too. Election Day certainly had something to do with what was or was not happening on the roads. But school closings and virus fears played their part.
I had been at East Hampton High School the day before. It was cold and windy, and hail began to fall as I stood in the empty parking lot. I had offered to get a photograph to go with our latest update on the increasing number of students who had attended a party in Springs where they contracted the coronavirus.
As the number of cases grew, the high school shut its doors, first for a day, then three, then for the week. Students and teachers shifted to online classes, optimistically termed remote learning. I have my doubts. High school was torture a lot of the time the old-fashioned way; I can’t imagine what having to do it while staring at a computer for eight hours in a row must be like.
Grumbling about online education aside, the schools have done a good job dealing with virus cases and preventing wider outbreaks by strictly managing their internal practices. But once outside of the school buildings, the risk of uncontrolled transmission increases.
To the teenage mind, the desire to socialize is powerful, more powerful for some kids than nervousness that virus particles could be floating in the air. Masks are left at the door as they crowd together, drinking and shouting to be heard. Relative risk is an abstraction, if considered at all.
Unfortunately, bad decisions by a small subset of East Hampton High School students led to the entire place shutting down. Kids will be kids. Expect a lot more of this before it is all over.