LA CROSSE, WIS — As several area schools are set to reopen next week amidst public scrutiny and the continued spread of COVID-19, county health officials have become alarmed over a new spike in Irrational Positivity Syndrome (IPS) alongside COVID-19 concerns.
According to state reporting, area school administrators experienced a 75% increase in positive IPS cases over the last week, one of the highest rates in the state and nation.
IPS is a communicable illness believed to be transmitted primarily through bad ideas.
Symptoms of Irrational Positivity Syndrome include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating on facts or reason
- Loss of coherent decision-making
- Annoying levels of cheerfulness amidst hardship
- Irritability when questioned
- Violent outbursts in the form of emailed memos
- Permanent stupid grin in the facial region
- Irrational and/or grandiose ideas
- Lack of awareness of other perspectives
- Constipation/being full of shit
While many parents, educators, and community members have voiced concerns over the logistics and risks of reopening schools amidst a global pandemic, local administrator Martin Smiley remains confident regarding reopening plans and his own immunity to IPS as well as COVID, influenza, the common cold, and most types of cancer.
“I know we can do this. We’ve just got to get creative about how we can work together to overcome these challenges. We’ve got to have those difficult conversations with each other. Whether it be halting COVID, closing learning gaps, single-handedly changing generational poverty, solving systemic racism, reforming health care, or bringing peace to the Middle East, we can do all of that and literally anything else more in schools,” said Smiley before adding, “We are the answer to everything.”
Smiley declined to share specifics about how they will maintain social distancing, actively monitor symptoms, and create clean spaces despite poor ventilation and hosting large numbers of people at once, but he did say his staff are “phenomenal” and “doing a great job.”
“I challenge them daily, and they respond in earnest,” said Smiley, becoming increasingly wild-eyed.
“I use a leadership formula that works extremely well. First I make a grandiose request I have no way of implementing or managing, then I offer effusive meaningless praise to ‘rally the troops,’ then everyone feels good and motivated while I assume the problems get solved without having to follow up on anything because–OH GOD I JUST REALIZED I CAN’T ACTUALLY CONTROL JACKSHIT!”
When questioned about the CDC’s new warnings regarding the risk of brief interactions and the irony of schools being an exception to state and county guidelines advising 25% capacity, Smiley responded, “La-la-la-la-la-la-laaaaaa I can’t hear you. Shut up!” as he became visibly agitated before turning to furiously type another mission and vision statement.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Jonathan H. Dong fears that administrators such as Smiley may be infected with IPS without even knowing it.
“One of the telltale signs I look for is false empathy, or fampathy. This symptom typically occurs when a patient has convinced himself to believe his irrationally positive ideas and then tries to empathize with those who have been adversely affected by his poor decisions. The difference between empathy and fampathy is that in true empathy, the individual would actually give a shit about others and reconsider his or her position,” said Dong.
Individuals with two or more symptoms of IPS are advised to visit drive-through testing and treatment sites at either Gundersen or Mayo. There, a medical professional will ask several reality-based questions and administer one dosage of common sense via injection. In severe cases, patients suffering IPS may also need to be hit over the head with a book entitled “Facts.”
For people who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for IPS, health officials advise socially distancing for up to ten years.
La Crosse Times staff contributed to this article.