So much hinges on whether schools open at a reasonable time—parents’ being able to go back to work, depression rates, and last but certainly not least, the education of children.
California mother Christine Ruiz has additional reasons to worry about school closures: her two boys are autistic and she says they will be irreparably harmed by not going to school. Ruiz, who is joining with several other special needs parents to sue Governor Newsom, who has decreed that there will be no on-site education in hundreds of school districts, tells the Free Beacon:
‘There’s a huge population of students that are not being spoken about, not getting the critical services they need.’
Ruiz said her boys cannot go on learning away from the classroom without serious cognitive consequences. After hearing from countless disease experts, she decided she wants to send her children back to school. That’s why she and eight other parents are suing Newsom.
Under a new California mandate, parents will not be allowed to send their children to school this fall despite guidelines from medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that favor a return to classroom learning. Newsom prohibited in-person schooling in hundreds of school districts, affecting more than 5.5 million students.
The executive order flies in the face of scientific evidence from both disease and education experts. Stanford University medical professor Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya told the Free Beacon the risk of schoolchildren transmitting the coronavirus is very low.
‘We should have good science on this,’ Bhattacharya said. ‘The science on this is basically—as best as I can tell—as settled as anything in the COVID epidemic. There is solid evidence that children do not pass the virus on, at least not at very high rates, to adults.’
The lawsuit doesn’t ask for mandatory on-site schooling but rather for a hybrid model, with some time in school supplemented by online learning. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Rob Dunn, has pointed out that Newsom’s order is “regressive” and “devastating” to less affluent families that can’t hire tutors or afford other alternatives to regular public school.
Nobody wants specifically at-risk teachers back in the classroom, but blanket resistance to finding safe ways to re-open schools is tantamount to saying, the heck with education for the next year or so. It is disheartening that so many U.S. teachers are protesting school openings instead of devising ways to open safely.
I’d like to refer you to a teacher across the pond who, confronted with the same phenomenon in the U.K., advises his fellow educators to “get a grip.” Teacher Matthew Reynolds considers teaching “a vocation”—in other words, he believes that what he does matters.
Maybe that is behind what he writes in The Spectator:
Remote is a poor proxy for learning. Understandably, some kids didn’t bother, and others do not have the technology, emotional support or physical space at home to access materials. They are being let down and social inequalities widen. . . .
Yet the road to full re-opening has been arduous. It has taken months of campaigning by groups such as UsforThem to reach this stage. One remaining obstacle is that of naysayers within my own profession, as represented by some unions, who are apprehensive. A shrill contribution to the TES forum, a platform for discontent, likened returning to the classroom to being ‘thrown to wolves’. Gosh, really, where do you work? Please come back Mr Chips, all is forgiven!
Of course, the world of Covid is fraught with uncertainty, and anxieties should be heeded. School staff who feel vulnerable, or who are concerned for others at home must have a voice and support. But should we be labelling schools as death traps, more Pripyat than Summerdown Comp? This rhetoric isn’t constructive, it knocks confidence and makes us depressed.
It also feeds the terror propagated by clickbait media. My least favourite weasel word in all this is ‘unprecedented’. Senior management band it around frequently: lockdown is ‘unprecedented’, distancing is ‘unprecedented’, shutting schools is ‘unprecedented’. Yikes colleagues, hang on a moment. Inhabitants of early modern European cities were routinely locked down at the first sign of plague; they were even tracked and traced with contacts consigned to designated pesthouses.
. . .
Within the scope of history, pandemic panic and response is not ‘unprecedented’. Why should we fear educating children when the medical consensus is that they are the least likely to transmit coronavirus?
Reynolds has been active in the movement to get kids back to U.K. schools.
It is because he believes, as does Christine Ruiz, that school matters, especially for kids whose parents can’t afford alternatives.