Saturday, July 11, 2020

Politics Over People During a Pandemic

I have been angry since May. Strike that. I have been in a rage. I have watched the nation politicize the health and well-being of its citizens, politicize equal rights, and I reached a boiling point and have stayed there. I could possibly write a book over all of my feelings at this point, but for the purposes of this post I am going to focus on one topic: the rising numbers of infected people and the opening of schools.

My feelings on this matter are simple. Opening schools amid rising infection rates is a guaranteed death sentence. Some teachers will die. Some support staff will die. Worst of all, some students will die. Some teachers and staff and students will be infected and survive but have debilitating after-effects; coronavirus attacks the lungs, heart, brain, and immune system. Nick Cordero, the Broadway star whom Covid recently killed after a three month battle, had already lost a leg due to the virus before he died. Corona isn't the Spanish Flu. Corona is Polio. Even survival doesn't mean full recovery--it can mean a lifetime of disability.

And I lay these results at your feet, decision makers. School boards. State education boards. Anyone who could be stepping in--should be stepping in--to stop schools from opening, but would prefer to play politics and please both sides. Sometimes there aren't two sides. This is murder. Every life lost because you would rather please the people than make the right decision will be your fault. Every child hospitalized will owe their isolation and terror to you.

But that is not all I lay at your feet. Trauma and anxiety, the fear of attending school and bringing this epidemic back home to vulnerable siblings, parents, grandparents, I also lay at your feet. If a student infects their immuno-compromised mother, brother, grandfather, the student suffers a traumatic event. Are you prepared to provide the counseling students, teachers, and staff will need? Every aspect of school will remind students that they are in danger, every section of school will be regimented.

Inequitable access is your fault, too. Instead of insisting we return to school when the danger is so obvious, this time could be spent solving the problem of access for all. Funneling money towards 1:1 devices instead of new desk dividers. Devising an action plan for contacting and even visiting and equipping households with less engagement last year to make sure they have the tools and knowledge they need to be successful this year. When we inevitably revert to online classes due to opening schools too soon and the deaths that will be soon to follow, you will have provided no help to those families and they will be in the same place they were before.

Finally, when we revert, since it will again be sudden, teachers will again be forced to change modes suddenly, and lesson plans will have to adjust suddenly, instead of being planned meticulously for an online curriculum, which would be the ideal. You could allow teachers a month or more of real preparation for online teaching and quality instruction, but instead you are choosing to put us in the same position that befell us in March--except in March no one could blame you. This time you are choosing it.

Decision makers, school boards, state boards, national boards. You are choosing poor instruction. You are providing inequitable access. You are causing mental trauma. And you are killing people. Don't open schools because you choose politics over people during a pandemic.

A pandemic shouldn't be political.

It's that simple.

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