costs by reducing deadhead time and mileage. Park- outs (which I generally do not favor) could further decrease deadhead mileage and shift lengths, and their costs.

Examples I presented in the May 2014, September 2014 and September 2015 issues of School Bus Fleet illustrated cases, where roughly 40 percent waste accrued to systems which failed to undertake some of the most basic system design efforts. If school ever returns to normal, continuing the practices outlined in this plan could cut transportation operating costs dra- matically—in some case, easily in half. Optimizing the adjustments cited in this model would teach us how. These savings could effectively repay the treasury for the investments needed now. Doubling the number of school bus drivers would

also create another half-million jobs. And another mil- lion jobs would be created by the attendants all buses will realistically need to keep the students masked and socially distanced. Particularly stringent passenger management would be needed for K-5 students. In the process, the attendants would be able to cross all the students at bus stops—almost completely eliminating the industry’s former major safety problem. California and Rhode Island employ this approach now. Because the virus spreads far less outdoors, physical school must be held largely outdoors—although con- siderations must be made for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and even less traumatic inclement weather. To accommodate this change, the school year must nec- essarily change to March through November, largely to accommodate schools in the colder, northern states. But southern states with warm weather year-round must also change their school years to make school less disruptive from state to state. In the northern states, special accommodations must be made for those cold months at the start and end of this new school year (March and April, and October and November), when it is too cold to hold school outdoors. At worse, students in northern states may have to

attend school only by Zoom during the cold months. More likely, they could make short, seasonal use of the large facilities they would otherwise use on rain and snow days, or spread out in larger, well-ventilated classrooms. Yet the class sizes of this model—half the students, and half of those attending by Zoom—will allow social distancing within most traditional class- rooms: Only one-fourth of each class’ students would physically attend. So, the risks of indoor classes would be slight even during the cold months. But even if ad- ditional months of Zoom school were required for the cold months, the learning deficiencies would be offset

by smaller class sizes, six days a week of school, and the addition of teachers’ aides. To place such alternatives in perspective, a city like Oslo,

Norway experiences six weeks of complete darkness in the winter. Finland, all of which lies north of Oslo (with even more weeks of complete darkness), has the world’s finest school system; its school days last only four hours. While a mere fraction of the size of the U.S. in land mass and population, neither country has experienced prob- lems with COVID-19 remotely like the U.S. has. Particularly with education, quality generally trumps quantity. With improvements in both, the many benefits cited above should give American students a huge educational boost. In other words, under this model, our students may not merely catch up. They could get ahead.

Health, Diet and Exercise As we have quickly learned, Southeast Asians are in-

fected by, and die from, COVID-19 at exponentially lower rates than U.S. residents. This is largely the result of far better health, mostly from a far better diet. The typical Asian diet is rice-based (gluten-free). Asians consume few dairy products (and little or no cheese). They eat little frozen food (packed with salt). They eat far less fast food. Food is more often steamed than fried. And most meals consist mostly of vegetables, rice, juice and tea. Where protein is consumed, it is most often fish or tofu (bean curd), which is more easily digestible and has less saturated fat. Most importantly, Asians consume little sugar (and far less high fructose corn syrup). Even apart from exponentially more testing and exhaustive contact tracing, the relationship between health and infection and death rates cannot be disregarded. On July 31, Viet- nam (a nation of 97 million people) experienced its first COVID-19 death. On the same date, the U.S. had experi- enced nearly 150,000. 1 Largely as a consequence of their diet, few Asians are obese (this has changed a bit in the past few decades with the introduction of fast food and soda). Scientists have found that those with a BMI [body mass indicator] of 35 to 40 have a 40 percent greater risk of dying from COVID-19. Those with a BMI greater than 40 have a 90 percent greater risk of dying from it. Being mildly obese makes it five times more likely that catching COVID-19 will land one in an ICU. While plagues used to have a slimming effect on people, the quarantines associated with COVID-19 have actually made us fatter—and even more vulnerable.

1 Vietnam experienced 34 more deaths in early August

– but by mid-August had completely stopped any further deaths. 49

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