None of us will ever forgot the surreal scenes of empty streets, ghosted public spaces, and cardboard cutout fans in stadiums during the early days of the pandemic. In most cases, people have returned to the scenes of their lives. But there are some places where the return has been more sluggish. The office is one obvious example. Schools have also been hit hard. The reasons given are varied (anxiety, less connection with school, rips in social fabric, kids more likely to stay home with colds or coughs) but the numbers are remarkably consistent. Did your school open quickly during the pandemic or stay closed? Do you live in wealthy or less wealthy area? What’s your race and gender? Doesn’t matter: absenteeism is up. “The increases have occurred in districts big and small, and across income and race. For districts in wealthier areas, chronic absenteeism rates have about doubled, to 19 percent in the 2022-23 school year from 10 percent before the pandemic, a New York Times analysis of the data found. Poor communities, which started with elevated rates of student absenteeism, are facing an even bigger crisis: Around 32 percent of students in the poorest districts were chronically absent in the 2022-23 school year, up from 19 percent before the pandemic. Even districts that reopened quickly during the pandemic, in fall 2020, have seen vast increases.” All this means the learning lost during the pandemic will be more difficult to make up. And it’s a lesson, as if we needed one, of the longterm impact of a trauma that continues to change the world. NYT (Gife Article): ​Why School Absences Have ‘Exploded’ Almost Everywhere. “The trends suggest that something fundamental has shifted in American childhood and the culture of school, in ways that may be long lasting. What was once a deeply ingrained habit — wake up, catch the bus, report to class — is now something far more tenuous.” Let’s face it. Our relationship to all of society’s institutions has become far more tenuous over the past decade of pandemics and politics.

+ WaPo (Gift Article): Covid changed how we spend: More YOLO splurging but less saving. “Just like the Great Depression ushered in decades of frugality and austerity — with an entire generation reusing plastic bags, jam jars and aluminum foil — there are signs the coronavirus crisis has had the opposite effect: nudging Americans toward spending more, especially on experiences.” (I’m pretty sure these numbers are skewed by the amount I paid for my Springsteen tickets last night.)