How to Safely Reopen Schools, as Explained by Teen Favorite The Kissing Booth

Step 1: No kissing booths.


No. Photo by Marcos Cruz / Netflix, photo illustration by Slate.

The COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread freely across the country, leaving thousands of dead in its wake, and you know what that means: It’s Back to School season! For most of the crisis, it’s been easy to sit back and trust that the United States government had everything well in hand, but reopening schools hasn’t gone as smoothly, so I thought everyone would appreciate it if I offered a few suggestions. I don’t know anything about the novel coronavirus or other coronaviruses or epidemiology or medicine or science, but neither does Jared Kushner, and I do know a thing or two about school: I once attended high school, and I hated it. The only reason America’s school systems aren’t already doing whatever I tell them to, as far as I can figure, is that it has been more than a few years since I set foot in a school.

So to update my knowledge, I consulted Netflix’s popular teen movies The Kissing Boothand The Kissing Booth 2. After carefully studying both films, I’ve identified several common school scenarios where the novel coronavirus might spread. Here are four Kissing Booth–basedcase studies, complete with potential problems as well as strategies to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. With the common-sense measures I’ve outlined below, we can make this the safest school year (compared to other years when we reopened schools in the middle of a deadly pandemic) ever!

Safety in the Classroom

Potential Problems

Despite being about high school students, The Kissing Booth franchise doesn’t feature many scenes set in high school classrooms. This detention scene is an exception, however, and the glimpse it gives us of a typical high school classroom in 2020 shows some of the pitfalls teachers and administrators will need to avoid in order for students to safely return to school. First, no one is wearing a mask, despite CDC guidance recommending cloth face coverings. Second, although the seating arrangements show some evidence of social distancing, not all of the students have an empty seat between them. Third, once Tuppen enters the classroom in a short skirt and starts showing off his gams, the hootin’ and a-hollerin’ that ensues sprays coronavirus-laden aerosol droplets all through the classroom, practically guaranteeing that everyone on camera will contract COVID-19.

Safer Alternatives

Wear Masks: Masks would obviously help here, and since they only appear in The Kissing Booth franchise during Halloween parties—the films were made before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus—this will be the last time we specifically note that no one is wearing a mask. Wear a mask!

Reduce Class Sizes: Students should be seated in a checkerboard pattern, at least six feet apart, to allow for social distancing. In this classroom, with three columns of five desks, that means only eight students can be safely accommodated; the scene shows nine. Limiting all classrooms to a maximum of eight students would help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus—and since most classrooms are nine students, tops, this shouldn’t be a big lift.

Do Not Allow Tuppen to Pull Any Stunts: Tuppen may claim that he is going to use the bathroom, but he is undoubtedly up to something, and probably something that will spread the novel coronavirus. This muscular bonehead’s pranks and capers are hilarious during normal school years, but as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, his mischief could have deadly consequences. Crack down on Tuppen!

Do Not Reopen Schools in the Middle of a Pandemic: Another way to help students manage the risk of COVID-19 in classroom situations is by not sending them back to school in the middle of a pandemic.

Safety in Common Areas

Potential Problems

Common areas have a high potential to become transmission sites for the coronavirus. In this clip, however, the students of Los Angeles Country Day School are doing most things right. Almost all of the students are observing social distancing requirements, no one is engaging in high-risk activities like whistling at Tuppen’s legs, and students are communicating through text messages, which do not spread the novel coronavirus. This clip is the best example of pandemic-safe school practices in the entire Kissing Booth franchise—not counting the clips where people are not attending school—and there’s a lot to learn from it.

Safer Alternatives

Encourage Sexting: Elle and Noah are modeling safe student behavior in this scene by sending flirty texts to each other instead of having sex on one of the tables in the chemistry lab. (They save that for a montage.) Bottom line: Anything you can do to encourage teenagers to spend more time sexting each other counts as a public health measure.

Make Sure Your School Library Is as Big as the Roman Coliseum: Sometimes, the best solutions to the pandemic are also the easiest. If your school library’s reading room is any smaller than the one shown in The Kissing Booth, simply expand it!

Do Not Reopen Schools in the Middle of a Pandemic: This would also help.

Safety at Social Events

Potential Problems

Every frame of this scene is a coronavirus nightmare. These kids have all contracted COVID-19.

Safer Alternatives

Forbid Students From Having or Attending Parties: The simplest way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus outside of school is to explain to your students that they are absolutely not allowed to throw any epic, booze-fueled parties when their parents are out of town. Problem solved!

Teach Students About Capitalism: The Flynn family home in The Kissing Booth franchise, which houses four (4) people, was created by taking a €6.3 million home in Cape Town and using CGI to add four more floors and an extra wing. It’s not clear where the Flynn family fortune comes from, but no one gets a house like that by doing anything good. Once students understand the staggering amount of human suffering they’ll probably be complicit in if they accept the hospitality of people like the Flynns, they will stop attending this kind of luxurious super-spreader event.

Do Not Reopen Schools in the Middle of a Pandemic: That way, even if your students insist on catching the novel coronavirus at a bitchin’ high school party at the Flynns’ blood-money manor, they won’t spread it any further on your account. No one said this was a cure-all!

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