(LA TIMES) – Back to school. In pre-pandemic days, it was the most mundane of catchphrases, a bit corny and comical, freighted with a bittersweet wish that the chlorine-scented days of summer could last a little longer.
Now, across the coronavirus-haunted United States, those words are a signifier of existential dread, a political lightning rod, a confounding multiple-choice question that has no real right answer, but plenty of wrong ones.
Parents, especially working ones, are desperate to get their kids back into the classroom. President Trump, eager to revive a devastated U.S. economy, is demanding that schools open for in-person instruction.
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But a pandemic is raging, particularly in the country's South and West, and with days ticking down to a new school year, no one is sure how to keep students, teachers and school workers – and, like the radiating spokes of a wheel, all those who come into contact with them – safe from contagion.