Schools should be one of the safest places on earth for children. But for many families right now, schools are simply NOT SAFE. This is not the fault of our wonderful teachers and staff, but the fault of politicians, superintendents, school boards, and some of the other administrators who have decided that money is more important than children’s lives. There is no other way to explain what I am seeing here in our school district in Allen, Texas and what many other parents are seeing in their school districts across the country, where almost all Covid safety precautions. have been eliminated.
It hurts me to even think that our children’s health and safety is not the top priority. I want to believe as a human being that no one WANTS to see children get sick or die. I want to believe that the people in charge think they are doing the right thing by trying to get things “back to normal” and to consider the physical health, mental health and the education of America’s youth. I truly, truly want that to be true.
But it is getting harder and harder to believe. The data we are seeing clearly shows that children are more vulnerable this year than last year. Cases are up, the delta variant is more contagious, and children still cannot get vaccinated. Hospitals are filling up with pediatric cases, so much so that available pediatric ICU beds are in short supply. Yet we are doing FAR LESS to protect our children. I don’t think there is anyone in the world who can look at the numbers and logically conclude that we are safer than last year.
So each time politicians, superintendents, and school boards are presented with facts and suggestions for ways to keep schools SAFE so kids can STAY IN SCHOOL, and still reject them, it is a psychological blow.
The callous responses I (and many others) have repeatedly received have absolutely broken my spirit. Each statement from our school district dismissing very real health concerns I’ve raised leaves me feeling unheard and like my child’s well-being does not matter.
It feels like I’m screaming into a void, trying to warn people around me about an approaching tsunami, and no one can hear me. They are right there, looking at me, watching my mouth open as I scream, with tears flowing down my face, and there are only blank stares in response. I point the the tsunami. The half-heartedly look at where I am pointing, and then turn back to me and say “there’s nothing there,” when we can all see it with our own eyes.
Then robotic, cold, canned responses are then parroted back to me:
“The kids didn’t perform well on last year’s tests”
“While we want all children in school, we know you have other options, like homeschooling”
“Masks are optional. Your child has the choice to wear one!”
“We cannot reveal which classes the positive cases were in.”
“Please be aware that if close contacts decide to quarantine, it will be an unexcused absence.”
“No, we cannot add a temporary virtual option.”
And none of these responses address the true danger our children are facing…much less even acknowledge that it is real. There is not an ounce of compassion or empathy from any leader I have spoken to.
In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Friends of mine have been told they are “aggressive” when they bring up concerns through approved channels that the school district set up themselves. They have been scoffed at—LAUGHED AT—for expressing their (fact-based) fears.
I don’t know who raised these people, but I simply cannot understand or accept people who are in charge of CHILDREN mocking, bullying, and gaslighting scared parents. How can one look into the eyes of another human being who is genuinely afraid, anxious, and concerned—EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THEM—and not only fail to acknowledge it, but laugh?
Because whether you and another person share the same perspective or not, whether you feel their concerns are justified or not, their feelings are still VERY real. Shouldn’t your first response be to at the very least acknowledge that?
It this what the human race has come to? We don’t care anymore? Are hearts so cold that they cannot even consider the pain of others? Is there no room for the humanity of a person who disagrees with you? Is this the world we want to raise our kids in? Are these the lessons we want them to learn?
I don’t want to live in a world where our leaders are so uncaring and unfeeling. I also don’t want to live in a world where we play Russian Roulette with children’s lives. But unfortunately, right now this is the world we do in fact live in. And it guts me to my core.
Thus far, the only conversation that has gotten any attention from our school district is a group of concerned parents proposing that we vote “no” on the upcoming school bonds. This is the last thing we want to do, yet it is the ONLY thing that our leaders seem to care about. They care about money from bonds and money from near-perfect attendance no matter the cost to our children. They have weighed the risk to our children, including the likelihood of real human beings being subjected to an illness that can lead to prolonged absences from school, hospitalization, lifelong complications, and even the possibility of death, with almost zero precautions…and decided that the risk was worth it.
They may say they care about children, but they care about money more. I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to trade the life of a child for a new weight room and turf. I’m just not. We can always put the bond back on the ballot at the next election, but we can never get back the life of a child or loved one.
The risk of Covid is not, and never has been, zero. I would think that the prospect of saving the life of even ONE child would be enough. No, we cannot prevent every illness or death in children, but we can do something. We can take the resources and tools we have been given and apply them. We can appeal to the creativity of the human minds around us to come up with solutions and compromises to adequately protect our children while still helping them have a sense of normalcy.
I plead with Allen ISD and all other school boards: implement more safety measures for our children. We NEED:
1. Mandatory masks
2. Contact tracing
3. Social distancing in the classroom and at lunch
4. Quarantining of students and staff exposed to positive cases—not unexcused absences!
The overwhelming majority of medical professionals, epidemiologists, and other scientists are screaming at you to look at the tsunami that is coming. Please look, listen, and act.