It’s time for our kids to be back in school.
Before delving into this further there’s a few disclaimers I must add on this topic I’m so passionate about.
Some parents blame the district and I just can’t bring myself to do that. Personally I watched my friend and our district leader Marc Malone struggle with frustration almost one year ago at the start of this mess as he and his team worked diligently to keep our kids in place as long as possible. Fully knowing the school sites were the best place for them; only to have his decisions mooted not by the county but the State Superintendent of Schools.
In short, the guy just couldn’t win, no matter how hard he tried. No matter how much information his team collected on the pros and cons, orders were orders.
Yes, I also recognize that many feel the district blew it by not allowing all students back when we were in red tier, I just can’t debate that now. I need to look at today and address where we are now.
As the saying goes, “Don’t look back, we aren’t going that way.”
And as I said in the lead, our kids need to be back in school. Not sitting in a room staring at a Chromebook, Mac, or laptop of any nature. They need to be on campus, surrounded by peers, teachers and support staff who have their best interest at heart.
This brings me to the next big topic we need to cover to get our kids there. The title and role of “essential” workers.
By definition the word essential: absolutely necessary; extremely important.
Public school teachers are indeed essential. Why they were not included in the first round of ordered vaccines alongside nurses, doctors, paramedics and the like I just don’t understand.
Haven’t we always been told that educators are shaping our future? If that be so, then why is their importance being vaccinated and back in the class not being treated as such? Why are we so caught up and focused on fear of the virus and our children, when the pandemic our youth is more largely affected by is their mental health. This is our future; we should be concerned about this right?
And please will someone explain to me how it is that certain states, as well as private schools are continuing to have in person instruction and those children are doing just fine. Better than fine, actually.
Yes, for the naysayer, the reader paralyzed by the fear, I understand that there is risk involved by placing our children back in the classrooms, welcome to life. Every single day we face risk, but life must go on or at least it should. Yet somehow we’ve all lived the past year of our lives as shut-ins and so many have grown accustomed to it, that indeed common sense is no longer common.
Taking a tangent for a moment, I also find it interesting listening to the news and reports on private schools, as students continue with traditional learning, while our public school students continue to struggle. In case you’ve missed it, this is a time of privilege (minus the color attachment which so many like to use). All ethnicities are privy to private school, my students however are not. In short, it’s just not in their mom’s budget, so we continue to do the best we can.
Many of our friends have left Oakdale schools and are now in private instruction. Each sharing their feeling of blessing to be able to do this for their student. I respect that, but we’re just a little lopsided.
Recently via my social media page, I asked educator friends to share their thoughts and feelings on returning to school and receiving the vaccine. Two, just two, of my very large pool of friends messaged me privately. Each sharing responses I could only hope would be echoed by all.
Their wish, to return to the classroom for in person instruction. To be placed as a priority to receive the vaccine and for it not to be required of the student.
“I don’t think children should be vaccinated because not enough research has been done and children don’t usually die from COVID,” one friend shared.
I love this answer. I love that whether people are talking about it or not, teachers do want to be back in the classroom. My hope is, when we get there, when it’s finally time to “have the talk” our teachers union doesn’t do as the Chicago Teachers Union did last week and bring up a stalemate.
As parents, we are not asking those with compromised immune systems, high risk or caring for family at home to put that at risk, but that’s a small number. We are asking for teachers to be treated and handled as “essential” and for the teachers to accept that is indeed the path they chose.
To be frank, it’s no different than a contract negotiation year, when we hear how important the role of the teacher is to our students’ future. We support you in those times and now when the time comes, we need you to reciprocate and walk the talk, just as my friend noted above.
It’s time to get our kids back in an environment where they will blossom and thrive. It’s time to treat teachers with the priority they deserve. This isn’t about money, this is about our future.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.