Eighty-four Days – What we are up against?

As a retired educator, I feel the obligation to stress the need to help our children and young people right now. Parents and families need support as schools open within the next few weeks. School districts and their respective boards and local authorities are planning and trying to make ends meet with regard to supplies to keep their schools clean, safe and how to implement spacial distancing.

Many schools continue to advocate for distance learning  or remote learning via Zoom and other Internet platforms. Some districts have opted for a hybrid system alternating days for face to face learning and on-line learning. There is no doubt that these decisions will be protested and opposed by parents, teachers and even our national leaders. There is no one size fits all. There are too many factors to consider.

There is no equity. But then again education has never really been equitable in our country. We even label some school districts poor or rich. This is just a fact. Some cities and towns are funded by property taxes and supplemented by some state and federal entitlements. However, the buildings and technological infrastructure is either excellent and state of the art or very old and in some cases obsolete or non existent. I am not going to point fingers or blame anyone at this point for our failures in education but the truth is not all schools are created nor maintained equally.

Right this minute, parents are trying to figure out how to get their children suitable devices, update their Wifi speeds or even get Internet service, and how to afford remote learning. Teachers typically use their own dollars to buy materials and supplies during the school year. The difference this year is that they cannot buy all their students tablets or computers. So who can help to provide these devices if we should have to go back to stay at home kind of learning? Make a list if you will.

All the medical experts I have listened to have said that children can be infected and can get seriously ill from COVID 19 . Yes, they have better immune systems but what about the immunity of their teachers and the parents and grandparents they go back home to possibly spread the disease.

So, to attend school or not to go back to school is the critical question for all of us. Let us remember that it takes a village. This is just not a cliche anymore. We spend our energy worrying about what sports teams are doing to play and keep their members safe. Many of the players, may I add are millionaires. I support sports just like everyone else; but should not our focus be our education system? Sports fulfill a large part of our cultural needs and help us to relax in many ways. Just like the NFL, NBA and national baseball teams, our educational system needs sensible and professional leadership, good coaching by knowledgeable educators and fitness experts to support students and teachers.

I am calling for action for all of us to do our part. Check out the needs of your school district. If you can donate a tablet or computer. If you know someone who can afford it ask them to donate. Rich companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Samsung, LG, Walmart, Amazon, to name a few, and how about the richer members of the stock exchange to donate computers and devices to communities where children and their families simply cannot afford to get a suitable device. A parent should not have to give their child a cell phone to use during remote learning. Some parents work from home as well. How do they share the time to get on-line? We have always been a very generous country and people. Let us put our money in the right place.

Last, our politicians should work out a viable bipartisan plan to continue to help our most vulnerable populations. We need people to feel safe and empowered again. No one wants to stay home and never leave it. I do not know anyone who loves to be on food stamps or depend on others to survive. Many folks want and need to get back to work.

However we need to help slow down this deadly virus and to keep each other safe. Love thy neighbor! Follow the guidelines to keep yourself and others safe until we find a cure, a safe vaccine and effective treatments. 163,533 souls suffered so much pain and lost their worst life’s battle. Let us not loose the war. It is not appropriate or acceptable to say that “It is what it is”. 

We need to keep up the fight, call out those leaders who are not doing their jobs, vote for those who are capable of getting the job done. This is how we will honor the memory of those who have fallen.

Let us pay attention to our local public officials. Check out what they are voting for to keep our country safe. Write letters, make the phone calls.

Please stay safe my friends.

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