Montana Governor Steve Bullock has publicized his plans for a three-stage phased re-opening of Montana’s economy. According to Bullock’s plans, churches may open April 26 (with proper social distancing), most businesses can reopen on April 27, and other businesses like bars and restaurants can open May 4. Bullock has also stated that schools have the option of re-opening on May 7. Although most Montanans are excited about getting back to work and school, not everyone agrees.
Montana’s liberals are grumbling beneath their breath about the re-opening that has been repeatedly requested by Republican legislators. Montana’s progressive trash-blog, Montana Post, ran a guest-opinion piece asking for a reopening instead in early June, far beyond when most heavily-impacted states will open. After catastrophizing the coronavirus and claiming that Republicans wanted people to die, it has been awkward to watch Democrats respond to Governor Bullock’s phased reopening plans.
Some, like Democratic gubernatorial candidate Whitney Williams, are openly disagreeing with Bullock on some aspects of his phased reopening plans.
Williams, a Hollywood public relations agent with deep California connects, is running for Bullocks’ job and so it’s particularly interesting to see how she would handle the crisis. The Democrat’s leading gubernatorial candidate doesn’t want schools to reopen, claiming that Bullock shouldn’t have even given local school districts the option.
Williams posted her disagreement with Bullock on Twitter…
Williams stated, “Reopening our schools should be a statewide decision – backed by science, not expediency. Shifting this decision to local school boards creates a patchwork approach across the state that’s not good for parents, for teachers, or for anyone in our state.”
Of course, the best ‘science’ currently demonstrates that school closures were probably unnecessary to begin with. Montana’s rate of exposure to coronavirus has been the lowest in the country, and with only 13 people still in hospitals, only 14 (previously unhealthy) people deceased and most of the 400-plus positive cases already completely recovered.
In the meantime, it is next to impossible to reopen Montana’s economy without reopening our schools, as the vast majority of parents do not have the capability to educate their children at home while going back to work. Not enough childcare currently exists to handle the load of parents going back to work in Montana. Williams, who is not a family woman, doesn’t have to worry about childcare issues and may not be considering the concern.
Governor Bullock’s order for local school boards to decide when they reopen is no doubt wise, with Montana stretching across a great expanse of geographical territory. With some counties taking the larger hit in regard to positive coronavirus cases, most counties experience no coronavirus at all. It would not make sense to require schools in southeast Montana open or closed based upon what’s good for schools in Missoula (or vice-versa).
If Williams finds it necessary to campaign to the left of Governor Bullock to win the Democratic primary, she will no doubt find it harder to win in the general election.