Students will stay out of school and knuckleheads will still be knuckleheads.
That was today’s bottom line – one serious, the other a bit silly – from Phil Murphy’s daily briefing.
Let’s start with the serious.
The governor’s announcement that schools will remain closed for the balance of the school year was no surprise. As Murphy said, most states are doing the same; although in many states, the school year
ends in May, not June as it does in New Jersey.
Saying it wasn’t safe to reopen schools, the governor, nonetheless, said he took the action with a heavy heart. The governor’s self-imposed deadline for making a decision on schools was May 15, a timetable he seemed happy to beat by 11 days.
As the governor has said throughout the pandemic, those most aggrieved by shutting down schools are seniors and athletes, especially where there is an overlap.
Not only do athletes miss playing their last year of scholastic sports, all seniors miss such things as the prom and graduation.
Those who left high school many years, if not decades, ago may be unmoved. After all, if your only hardship in life is not having a senior prom, that’s not much of a hardship.
Yet, for many 17 and 18-year-olds, the prom and graduation parties are milestone events they’ve been looking forward to for years, or at least since last September. They will survive, but it’s still a bitter pill.
Murphy acknowledged that, but as he has done many times of late, said public health and safety are more important. The feeling here is that the governor will get some criticism for keeping schools closed, but not all that much.
Schools are staying closed, but the parks reopened last weekend and the results were good in terms of patrons practicing social distance.
While Murphy said he wishes more people were wearing masks, there were “very few instances of knucklehead behavior.”
Yep, he said “knucklehead.”
Over the weekend, Joe Pennacchio, a Republican state senator from Montville (District 26), took offense at the term, which has been appearing on electronic road signs. Pennacchio, the co-chair of Donald Trump’s New Jersey reelection campaign, said calling people knuckleheads was flippant and disrespectful.
The governor was paying attention.
He mentioned the criticism today, but not Pennacchio’s name.
More interestingly, Pennacchio’s observation sent Murphy to the dictionary. He said Webster’s describes a knucklehead as a “stupid, bumbling and inept” individual.
“That’s the point,” Murphy said, suggesting that a knucklehead was an apt description for those who violate state public health regulations.
But there are alternatives; The governor mentioned “blockhead” and “numbskull.”
Catchy to be sure, but whether “Jersey Joe” likes it or not, it sounds like Murphy’ is going to stick with knucklehead.
Nothing about the pandemic is very funny, but for those of a certain age – and that includes Murphy and Pennacchio – these insults are right out of the Three Stooges, a popular TV series back in the day.