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By Thomas Courtney

President Donald J. Trump just declared that teachers and students should go back to school and he gave us eight pieces of advice–may be to help swallow this magical pill. For a national symptom that in his fumbling idiocy he caused in at least part, and for which he takes no responsibility. Maybe it’s the fact that for the last several years as a primary school teacher I can’t give advice of my own like:

1.  You should speak as if you were president.

2.  You should write as if you were president.

3.  You should act as if you were president.

4.  You should treat others as if you were president.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been able to give that advice to students that I now find myself interested in giving some to him.

I’m not entirely sure which it is.

I just know it’s tremendous advice. The likes of which no one has ever seen.

Here they are:

 You want me to: Ensure all students, teachers, and staff understand the symptoms of COVID-19 and its risk factors.

I suggest that you: Ensure all presidents understand the symptoms of COVID-19, it’s risk factors, and that it won’t “magically go away.”  Please ensure that all presidents do not believe in cures from doctors who also believe in alien DNA because they seem “impressive” in a video on social media.

You want our school to: Require all students, teachers, and staff to self-assess their health every morning before coming to school; if they are symptomatic they should consult their physician.

I suggest that you: Require all presidents to go through a more rigorous mental examination than a five-word memory test or identification of a large African mammal. If the president is symptomatic for thinking he’s doing a “terrific job” when there are now over 160,000 deaths to COVID-19, you may wish to consult a person with a character somewhere, anywhere in his administration.

You want me to: Encourage frequent handwashing or hand sanitizing during the school day, beginning upon entrance to the school, by ensuring that handwashing facilities are widely available throughout the school.

I suggest that President Trump: Encourage frequent sharing of facts, not odd theories about hydroxychloroquine and bleach “knocking it out” inside the body.

You suggest we: Minimize large indoor group gatherings; hold large gatherings outdoors whenever possible.

I suggest you: Minimize telling people that masks are a personal expression of freedom allowing rates of infection to go down like they are in actual civilized countries. If so, it would be safer when the students and I go back to school, which is what we want to do.

You recommend that I: Maintain high standards of hygiene and ventilation within all classrooms, including keeping windows and doors open and running fans and AC units whenever possible.

I recommend that you: Maintain high(er) standards of grace and professionalism, and if you can’t do that, at least take away his twitter account.

You recommend that I: Require students, teachers, and staff to socially distance around high-risk individuals.

I recommend that you: Require that all presidents increase his social distancing around porn stars, convicted felons, dictators, and white supremacists.

You recommend that we: Encourage the use of masks when social distancing is not possible. Liberally post instructions regarding hygiene and social distancing around the school.

I recommend that you: Practice what you preach.

After all, you ARE The White House.

This IS The President of the United States of America we are talking about.

And on November 3rd, I have one last piece of advice for him.

I recommend, Mr. President, that you leave.

 Thomas Courtney is a 20-year educator in southeast San Diego. He writes, presents, and advocates for school programs that improve student lives, and in this case, keeps their families safe.


Thomas Courtney is a senior policy fellow with Teach Plus, a member of Edsource's Advisory Committee,...

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