The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the face of education in America; however, we must minimize the profoundly adverse social, developmental, and health costs to our children. Research shows by implementing new protocols, schools can be re-opened safely and effectively.
Wearing a face mask to reduce spread of Covid-19 and touting condom use to diminish transmission of HIV and other STDs are essentially the same thing. Masking up should not be a question of politics, gender, or education. It is no more “negative” emotionally to cover our face and protect our neighbor than it is to wrap our naughty bits with latex and protect our sexual partner.
Teachers like Mrs. Hemmersbach impact children for a lifetime and are unlikely to be forgotten. Before signing off for the last time, Mrs. H told her students that she would miss them, had high expectations for them in the future, and would see them at their senior celebration. There is little doubt she has inspired countless numbers of students to reach for the stars and many of us lucky enough to have her teach our children wish her a happy and fulfilling retirement.
While most Americans believe that the little guys with the big hearts should win, our economy has veered off in a completely different direction: since the 1980s, the Potters have been crushing the Baileys of the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacted a heavy toll on the nation’s small businesses. What happens when “little guys,” like the Baileys, see no end in sight to an unrelenting viral assault?
As a pediatrician, I am even more concerned about those students who are homeless, food insecure, or being exposed to violence more regularly at home as a result of school closure. School is the one place where children can feel safe, fed, and supported. Children with disabilities—who receive speech, language, and other therapies—have been unable to continue their specialized services at school, which are essential to foster learning and development.
No one asks the soldier whether she is afraid to die. That is her job. Healthcare workers are not afraid of dying, but like all parents, they fear leaving their children without a mother or father. Last night, my son asked me the question I have been dreading. “What if you and daddy die of Covid-19?”
We already know it is the responsibility of every one of us in Kitsap County to slow the spread of Covid-19. In this second column on the subject, I want to focus on the next steps for our community. The most effective nonpharmacological intervention within our reach is to close schools proactively for a lengthy time period. And in the next 800 words, I hope to convince our educators and the public.
To be honest, our lives will not be saved by the government. And lives will not be saved by elected officials or large institutions. Lives will not be saved by a miracle vaccine this year either. Lives will be saved by everyday decisions made by responsible citizens in Washington State and the rest of the nation.