In Our Desire To Get Kids Back To School, It’s Selfish To Not Consider The Health/Safety Of Educators
Like so many parents, even though autumn is still a few months away, I have been thinking continuously that WTF will happen when (and if) schools reopen. Will my children's school district be able to offer options that seem pedagogically and socially appropriate while protecting my children? Could we do a few more potentially catastrophic months of distance learning? What would be the risks for my children if I sent them back?
My current instinct is that there is no way I can go back to school so I can send my kids back. I mean, closed rooms are known vectors of COVID-19, and half of the adults I see walking around the city can't wear a mask - how the hell would a room full of third graders do this? I just can't imagine that school is a safe or happy place for my kids.
But. The other thing I'm not really talking about is that my husband is a teacher and I'm worried that he'll have to work again. My husband loves his job and his students love him back. His school has successfully implemented distance learning and he sat at his desk at home diligently from March to June, offering great virtual lessons to his middle school students.
The idea that he might be forced to work again before it is 100% safe - or that there is a risk of losing his job if he refuses to return - keeps me awake at night.
My husband is a relatively healthy 42 year old man with no health problems. I can only imagine the stress and anxiety older teachers are feeling right now - or any teacher with an underlying health condition that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19.
Why do we let teachers out of the conversation about reopening schools?
I am concerned about how little the safety of teachers, administrators, and support staff is discussed when talking about safe reopening of schools in the fall. Student learning is an absolute priority, and adult health that facilitates learning should also be important.
4:09 a.m. - June 24, 2020
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Now, like you, I've read the studies and stories that explain that children are not major vectors of COVID-19. Sure, they get sick, but they are less likely to spread the virus to others.
But aside from the fact that even a transfer from a child to a teacher (or bus driver or school secretary or other assistant staff) could be an actual death sentence and it's not okay to risk even a life, I want to Remind you that this is the case. We don't know that much about COVID-19. After all, it is a novel virus - which means that it is brand new.
Sure, there were daycare centers and other small educational groups we know in the US that opened the virus and didn't spread it. However, this is different from opening whole schools and opening thousands of schools at the same time in a country that is likely still infected with the virus.
We all know that schools are literally germ factories. Can you imagine the damage that can happen when school breaks out across the country? NYC's public schools alone, home to the country's largest COVID 19 outbreak in the spring, have over 1 million students. Think about it for a second.
You can also take a look at other countries outside of the United States to determine that opening schools is definitely not without risk. According to The Times Of Israel, a recent serious outbreak of COVID-19 has been attributed to the country's public schools and has spread between students and teachers.
"Much of the resurgence of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, has been attributed to the education system, which has confirmed hundreds of new cases in schools and kindergartens," said The Times Of Israel.
In this latest outbreak, 635 students and teachers were infected.
635. That's a hell of a lot of students and staff who have probably brought the virus home to their families.
liza aksenova / reshot
Similar scenarios have been reported in countries such as France and Canada. In May, 70 cases of COVID-19 were linked to reopened French schools. In Canada, almost a whole class of children, including an employee, were infected - with preventive protocols such as hand washing and social distancing.
This. Is. Not. Okay.
I would like to remind you that about 29% of teachers are 50 years or older and classify them in the age group where the risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 is extremely high. Not to mention the fact that teachers of all ages live under the underlying conditions or look after children or family members who are in vulnerable groups.
Teachers are wonderful and will do anything for their students, but they will not be paid enough to risk their lives. It's no wonder that, according to USA Today, one in five teachers says they won't likely return in the fall if schools open. Take this into account in the fact that we are likely to have to hire more teachers and staff, not less, so that we can even try to provide sufficiently small class sizes and safe transportation for students.
And can you imagine what would happen if we had to reopen the schools early and then close them a few weeks later? This is a lot of work for the teachers. Not only would they have to redesign their classrooms and class routines to meet the guidelines for reopening the COVID-19 school (which, incidentally, sounds very difficult, if not impossible). But then, if necessary, they would have to go back to distance learning, just like last spring.
Again too much to ask a teacher to shoulder.
I don't have all the answers when it comes to going back to school. This is probably the biggest crisis our generation has ever dealt with. But I know that letting our wonderful teachers out of the conversation is unacceptable and frankly, selfish and disrespectful - and that we have to do everything we can to protect them.
See the original article on ScaryMommy.com
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