School is supposed to start in a matter of weeks. Although our county announced their plans to start virtually this year, we had already made our decision a while ago. We will not be sending our kids to school this year, at least for the first semester. There are so many reasons for our decision, but above all, it came down to the well-being of the teachers, the staff and their families.
I think it’s important to let you know that I don’t believe any of this has to do with politics. It has to do with the welfare of everyone who works in or attends a school, and those that are related to someone who works in or attends a school. I know that for those of you who disagree with me, my beliefs are not likely to change yours, but if you’re still reading this, I ask you to just take some things into consideration.
First, none of this is about you and it’s not about me… it’s about the wellbeing of everyone. The faster we slow this pandemic down, the faster we can all get back to living our best lives and get our kids back into school, safely.
But it’s not time yet. It’s not safe yet, especially here in Florida.
In March, our county switched to distance learning, like many schools across the nation. We were confused, terrified and extremely overwhelmed. It took weeks for our kids to get used to things. It seemed to take our family even longer, trying to juggle working from home while teaching our kids to school-from-home. The situation wasn’t ideal, but we made it work and the kids finished the year strong and ready to start fresh.
While we hoped that this pandemic would be gone by the start of the new school year, sadly it will not be. In fact, cases here in Florida are on the rise. They expect things to get worse because so many people are not taking it seriously.
I watched all of the school board videos. I read a ton on social media. What I see are a lot of people who seem to think that our school system is their babysitting service. I get it… people have to work and don’t have anyone to watch their kids. But that’s not what school is meant for. School is meant to be a safe place for kids to be educated. And when we are dealing with a pandemic of this magnitude, there is no way that school will be a safe environment in the states where the cases continue to increase daily.
Those schools that chose to open, with little to no safety precautions are having to shut down. In fact, one county in Georgia just closed it’s third high school for COVID-19 concerns.
Restaurants are still not fully open. Most camps decided to stay closed through the Summer and those that did open, saw a number of positive cases and forced a 2-week quarantine. They still aren’t allowing events with more than a certain number of people. So why would it be ok for our kids to go back to school? Did we forget how crowded schools are and how curious kids can be?
You can make the classes smaller, require everyone to wear a mask, split up the classes so that kids only attend a few days vs. all five days… none of that will matter to the teachers and staff who have to be there all day, every day. They still have to come in contact with everyone. They still have to risk catching this awful virus from someone and bringing it home to their family. And all that time that they may not realize they are positive, they will be coming in contact with your kids, at least 3x a week. Kids who will be kissing you goodnight and hugging you before they leave to school in the morning.
Even if you think you and your family are magically immune, why should the teachers and staff have to put themselves and their family’s lives at risk? My family strongly believes that they shouldn’t.
I’ve spoken to many who seem to think that all kids are immune to COVID-19, but actually, no one is immune. A child, even if they show no symptoms, can still pass it on. Over 200,000 children have tested positive, with at least 4 children, just in Florida, having died. And while 4 doesn’t seem like many, 4 is 4 too many! If your child was one of those four, I’m sure you’d be the first to try to stop the schools from opening.
My kids want to go back to school, just like yours do. They miss their friends and their teachers. My 11 year old was looking forward to seeing her Middle School for the first time and my oldest, her new high school. We need the house to be quiet so that we can effectively work. But it’s our job as responsible parents to make sure that we don’t put our children (and the teachers, staff and other students in their classes) in harms way.
This virus is still taking lives. We need to stop fueling that fire.
And while families may be given the choice of whether or not to send their kids back to school, in many states teachers and staff are not given that choice. The only choice they will receive is whether or not they want to keep their jobs.
One teacher, who has been at her school for 20 years and is very close to retirement shared her thoughts with me.
“We recently had a person test positive at my school. Everyone who has had contact with this individual has been tested and the school was shut down for a week. We went back to school on August 10th. There is not enough in the way of safety precautions. Masks are not mandatory, just recommended. We had a workshop recently with about 30 people. Although we were social distancing, we were in a small space and only 3 of us were wearing masks (I was one of them). Since I have to go back, so does my son since we do not have family near us and do not have help in order to keep him home. So the choice is our safety or food on the table and a roof over our heads. If I don’t go back I will likely lose my job.”
We love our teachers. They moved mountains last year, learning how to teach our kids from their home, keeping them motivated and staying positive. We owe them the decency to care enough about their jobs, their families and their LIVES. That’s why my family made this decision. It’s what’s best for us and our family.
You, of course, should make the decision that is best for your family. But I urge you to keep the teachers and staff in mind. They deserve that from us.