Saturday, September 26, 2020
Sept. 26, 2020

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Cheers & Jeers: School time, not party time

The Columbian

Cheers: To tens of thousands of local public school students who went back to school this week, virtually. The pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances for children, their parents, their teachers, and everyone else who touches young lives. When traditional classroom instruction abruptly moved online in the spring, the hope and belief was that COVID-19 would be in remission by now, allowing some semblance of a regular school day. It isn’t, and traditional classes are still risky. So cheers and best wishes to those who are experiencing an extended Plan B.

Jeers: To dumb college students. We’re talking about you, Washington State University, where students flocked back to Pullman not for classes — instruction is online for the fall semester — but to enjoy some of those legendary Palouse parties. As a result, Pullman and Whitman County now have some of the most disastrous COVID-19 case rates in the nation. Gov. Jay Inslee called out the National Guard this week to set up a testing site in a neighborhood of dense student housing, and Pullman cops are writing tickets to party hosts. There’s blame beyond the Palouse, of course. Other universities have experienced major outbreaks after reckless student behavior. You don’t even have to be a college student to get sick: in Clark County, people in their 20s accounted for the most new COVID-19 cases, according to statistics released this week.

Cheers: To the Washington State Department of Transportation. Some nifty new signs along southbound Interstate 5 from approximately Northeast 99th Street to the Interstate 5 Bridge will relay real-time information about traffic backups to motorists. The technology should reduce accidents and improve travel times during the freeway’s most congested hours.

Jeers: To the Washington State Department of Transportation. Part of that Hazel Dell-to-the-bridge project involved paving the left shoulder so buses can short-cut the line in the mornings. As a result, the other lanes were made so narrow that there’s constant and severe danger of side-swipe collisions. And WSDOT neglected to pave the right lane, leaving cracked pavement and a chuckhole underneath the 39th Street overpass deep enough to hide a full Environmental Impact Statement. There’s probably some bureaucratic reason for this, but this is why people distrust government.

Cheers: To Costco and Boeing. These big corporations with a substantial presence in Washington are donating tens of millions of dollars to social justice initiatives, according to The Seattle Times. Costco is investing $25 million into a fund to support Black-led financial institutions and community development initiatives. Boeing is offering $10.6 million to nearly two dozen nonprofits and programs aimed at racial equality and social injustice. In June, Seattle-based Amazon announced it was giving $10 million for similar initiatives. Now that more attention has been called to the plight of marginalized people, it’s going to take money to reduce the barriers, and corporate philanthropy is a welcome boost.

Jeers: To careless smoking. An initial investigation into the cause of an east Vancouver fire that killed two people Tuesday evening implicated an improperly discarded or dropped cigarette. A cigarette butt thrown into some landscaping was blamed for a July 31 fire that damaged four duplex apartments in west Vancouver. And there are many, many more fires caused by careless smoking. If you smoke, be sure to dispose of butts in metal buckets filled with water or sand. Even better, save thousands of dollars, and possibly your health, and quit the habit.