In today’s press conference, Kayleigh McEnany said, “The science should not stand in the way of” schools opening this fall. On Fox News Sunday, Betsy DeVos said, “If schools aren’t going to reopen …they shouldn’t get the funds.” We underpay teachers in this country, proving how little we truly value them, and at the same time, we ask them to risk their lives to teach our children. What does that say about us as a nation? In today’s post, Ruth Roberts movingly talks about the school opening decisions we are confronting as a nation from a very personal perspective.
Opening school is not safe for my child
by Ruth Roberts, the suburbs of Baltimore, MD
In our house, we are paying close attention to the national and local news these days regarding opening schools. Every day there are more guidelines, or another teacher’s union voicing their concerns. The President and Mrs. DeVos talk only about danger for the children, which they have determined is minimal. “Kids don’t get sick most of the time.” “Kids are resilient.” The President even had the audacity to say ,“People are dying because they need to come back, I mean seriously, they are dying because of this.” The media chatter all seems to focus on children. And that’s fair, we need to protect them. But MY child is a teacher. And no one, it seems, except for the union rep, is very concerned about her.
So here’s what I’d like everyone to understand. Because of this country’s obsession with guns, my daughter had to (along with the rest of our family) accept the fact that she was walking into potential danger every single day. That, one day, that newscast might be about her school getting shot up. So, she sucked it up and focused on her students. My daughter would die for her students. I know it. She wouldn’t hesitate. But now, on top of placing her in danger every day from potential gun violence, many people expect us to suck up another danger to her life and take it in stride just so their lives can get back to “normal,” Whatever normal means to them. Well, I am sorry, but you are asking too much. If you want life to return to normal, you know what we are asking of you? WEAR A MASK. WASH YOUR HANDS. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. That’s it. Just do that and maybe in two months time we could get back to “normal.”
But instead, you moan about masks being hot, or stupid looking, or worst of all, an assault on your freedom. Really? What about my daughter’s freedom to not get COVID-19 from your kid because you won’t wear a mask? Even before the pandemic, our schools have been dangerously underfunded. You expect the schools to be disinfected to hospital standards? Many schools DO NOT EVEN HAVE SOAP IN THE RESTROOMS. Many schools do not have adequate ventilation to cope with a virus. In my daughter’s school last year (and this is a building about 10 years old), the AC did not work for about 2 or 3 months when school reopened. The windows are sealed units, they do not open. So tell me how you ventilate that school? You don’t.
There is no way schools can open until we have made significant progress with controlling the virus. Please urge your school boards and state education departments to open in the fall with remote learning. It is going to take money to do it too, so start hammering on your government to stop cutting education and fund it to the same levels they threw at the corporations and farmers. Your mantra should be: No money, no school. It’s that simple, folks.