There has never been more school “choice” than there is today, but things were better pre coronavirus when there was only one choice – you just sent your kids to school without thinking much about it.
Post pandemic, parents are bombarded with school options – should kids attend school, take online classes, opt for homeschooling or a combination of the three? Messaging is flying pro and con, and there is truth to each side: students flourish when they’re in a structured setting, but parents also may be sending their kids into a coronavirus cauldron.
The United States is unprepared for safely opening schools. That goes double in Florida, a hotbed of coronavirus. Officials lean on stats showing kids are unlikely to get seriously ill or die from COVID-19. Still, 31 percent of kids under 18 who have been tested in Florida have resulted positive. That’s very high. Do you want to put your kids to the test? What about teachers and administrators who are older and more vulnerable? Are they the next “heroes” for whom we clap at 7 p.m. but for whom we do little to improve working conditions?
Opening schools will create a higher demand for regular virus testing and contact tracing, yet we lack the supplies and infrastructure for it. Parents need assurances and they’re not getting it from authorities, who seem to want to shoehorn the situation with threats of withholding school funding when schools need more, not less, money to keep students healthy and safe. The only thing that’s missing is for the education secretary to call on truant officers to arrest parents.
The real driver here is the economy, which cannot fully reopen until kids are in school so parents can return to work. I get it. The working class depends on schools the most. Their children are paying a higher academic price for being out of school than upper income households for whom choice has always been possible. The education gap is widening exponentially because of COVID-19. It’s a vicious circle.
But the country didn’t put people first in a rush to reopen businesses, generating a resurgence of COVID-19. Let’s not make the same mistake with schools. #peoplefirst
˜˜María Padilla, Editor
A version of this article was published earlier on Facebook.