I hinted at this in my post the other day, but I should probably address this fully.
So, school. Just another one of the 1,000,000 hot topics of the year that gives people another thing to fight and disagree about. This one really gets me riled up personally, so I’m going to try to keep this brief (spoiler: I don’t).
Quick backstory of our local situation:
Earlier this summer, on July 20, our public school district announced they would be returning virtually this fall “at least through the first quarter” (which here runs from Sept. 8- November 2). This was voted on by the School Board, applied to all public schools in the district and from my understanding, was based on the inability to safely open all schools while preventing the spread of COVID (we have a good sized district with something like 16 total schools and a huge high school).
My boys attend a smaller, private, Catholic school in town. All summer, our school’s principal had been in touch with us, reporting that they were working diligently (and in constant communication with public health deparments) to put together a full, comprehensive plan to allow kids to return to school in person that would meet or exceed all local health guidelines regarding COVID.
A few weeks ago we received the full 5 page “Opening Plan”, which I thought was great. To name just a few, it included things like:
- breaking the grade levels up into smaller classes or “hives”, with <15 per group (per guidelines). This means the kids would only be with these same 15 kids everyday. They also spent hours putting these groups together, ensuring neighbors/friends who already see each other anyway or carpool were together to minimize additional interactions.
- social distancing in all settings
- modified arrival/ dismissal schedules to ensure social distancing is possible at all times
- masks required at all times
- changes to lunch (only with their “hive”), no water fountains, birthday treats, etc.
- professional cleaning/disinfecting service daily each evening
- option for virtual school for anyone not wanting in person
The plan meets or exceeds the health department’s requirements. These are the same requirements that the local YMCA/Gym/Rec Department centers for daycare/daycamps that are all open and have been open (with no issues or major outbreaks) have to meet. I personally felt very comfortable and quite impressed with the detail involved in the opening plan and was thankful to the staff for their very hard work.
Well. Wouldn’t you know it that all of a sudden at 5 pm on Friday evening, August 21 (mere days before some small local private schools were planning to open, after working tirelessly to make accommodations all summer), our county issued a last minute “emergency order” stating that ALL schools in our county (including private schools) are suddenly REQUIRED to open virtually only for grades 3-12.
I’m not going to go crazy getting into this, since I really am trying to keep this blog generally positive and free from “debate-y” topics. Personally, I do not agree with this and I think it is completely unfair that a school cannot open IF it meets all of the widely accepted safety standards.
I am never a fan of “blanket statements” or one size fits all rules and policies in general. Comparing our small, private schools reopening (as a local news channel did) to schools reopening in Georgia, with masses of unmasked high school kids in the hallway and clearly a terrible, unsafe reopening plan, is like comparing apples to….zebras.
If a school can meet the same safety requirements being used in all other settings, then there cannot be any increased risk that warrants shutting them down (and bringing along the huge slew of negative outcomes for families/kids that come with closing schools!) and they should be allowed to open. If the school cannot meet the safety requirements (due to lack of staff, building design, whatever), then it shouldn’t be allowed to open.
I also have a BIG issue with day camps/ day cares being allowed to open (oftentimes inside school buildings) with the exact same numbers/ plan as our private school, while the schools cannot. It just doesn’t make sense.
Not to mention- my kids’ education feels pretty darn essential to me. 5th and 6th grade are huge fundamental building block years for the rest of middle and high school. My list of concerns goes on and on.
So basically, I can pay to send my kids to a “virtual learning YMCA day camp school” inside a public school building with 15 kids isolated per group, but I can’t send my kids to “school school” inside the school with 15 kids isolated per group. (scratching head, mind boggled)
Anyway, gonna wrap up. This makes my blood boil for many, many reasons and I’m getting a headache. Several lawsuits against the county have been filed this week in an effort to overturn this ban so I guess we’ll see what happens.
People are MAD.
I’m all for stopping the spread of COVID- I really, truly am. I get the severity of it and I want to do the right, safe thing whenever possible. But I also really, truly believe that if a school can open safely (meeting all recommended safety guidelines), it should absolutely be allowed to open. School is SO IMPORTANT!
I love this reminder (which I think we all need right now) that we can always choose our attitude about a situation. I may hope for change or a different outcome, but I can also still (try!!) to choose a positive attitude along the way, no matter what happens.
Unrelated to all of the above…I am grateful for a BEAUTIFUL morning outside today. Cooler temperatures (high of only 75 after several days in the 90s!), sunshine…it’s a glorious day.