The town where I live has a small school system. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, our 2018-19 enrollment was 512 students in total. Our teachers work hard and are paid considerably less than those in bigger cities, and their jobs, as in many schools, requires a lot of social work in addition to teaching. Over half the students are considered low income, and in recent years, enrollment for non English speaking children has increased.
In addition to the drills for tornados and fires, the last few years have seen the need for active shooter drills. Chewing gum and passing notes are no longer a problem. Getting kids to stay quiet and pressed together to keep from being gunned down is the new worry.
And now, Covid-19. Masks, sanitizers, and thermometers will be housed near the chalk and pencil sharpener. Students and teachers will be separated and sequestered in their rooms all day, with lunch at their desks and recess? With the CDC’s 60+ pages of guidelines mirroring the IRS tax code, it may take half the day just to get the children seated.
Betsy DeVos, the head of the Department of Education has insisted that children need to be in school this fall. She recently thought she’d provide some reassurance by declaring that “only 0.02% of children will die” once the schools start back in session. For Galva, that means 10 students. Which ones do you think should be sacrificed? Should we chose one from each grade, just to be fair? And those that get sick, and remain affected – what about them? Or, those who bring the virus home to parents, or grandparents – how many of those? Miss Betsy failed to mention how many teachers would die, so that remains to be seen.
I’m wondering how many of our adult decision makers met in person to make the decisions about when, and how to open the schools. While I do not envy their job and admit that I can’t offer a better solution, I doubt that they were in a room for 7 hours with 25 – 30 other people when they made these decisions. But, our teachers and children will be. Five days a week.
I would be interested to know who is willing to let their child die so we can keep them all at their desks. The first 10 who respond will win an autographed photo of Betsy.