From: Atlanta, GA
I am 100% supportive of mask-wearing and I support this being a requirement both in schools and in indoor public spaces. BUT, I am very leery about distance learning in education. It was a massive failure in the spring and, while it could improve somewhat, it will not be a good choice if we care about our children's learning.
There are so many problems with distance learning, it is hard to know where to start.
First, let me acknowledge that many well-adjusted, regularly-abled children with excellent adult supervision and support can do just fine with distance learning. The problem is all the children that do not have one or more these aspects will have significant issues with learning from home. The CDC Director said recently that approximately 7.1 million children nationwide receive their mental health care and special educational services from school resources so it is hard to measure the level of damage these children not getting this support (and Zoom is a terrible substitute). And what do you do for Special Needs children with distance learning? They often essentially stopped progressing and many started regressing. 14% of our children will be significantly harmed with distance learning.
How about the gap between the haves and have-nots? White-collar and well-off children will have an adult parent keeping them motivated and on-track, but what about single parents and the children whose parents are less academically focused? Many of these children may as well not have school. In some poorer areas, less than half of the kids ever even went online during distance learning last year! And if they do not have Internet access, is distance-learning even possible? I know a single parents who will be working regardless of whether their will be distance learning or not. Some of these kids are not even old enough to be left at home legally. And even if we decided to pay these parents to stay home with their kids, this could be an economic disaster. A 25 trillion dollar debt will eventually turn against us and cause massive problems,why push the envelope? And many businesses need these employees, what happens to them? Maybe they go hire replacements because the jobs are core to the business and these single parents lose their jobs permanently.
For any parent that wants their children to do distance learning, they should be allowed to do this, so if there is a concern about a preexisting condition of the child or parent of the child, this can be an option that can be chosen. The only real problem is what if too many teachers want to opt-out, but the hard truth is that we can provide them the best PPEs and they may have to do what many around the country (at Target, Home Depot, etc.) have had to do for four months now and that is: take as much as precautions as possible and go to work.
Some districts have already announced they will do distance learning, but is almost impossible to fully appreciate how many lives will be harmed by these choices. How many jobs lost, careers harmed, mental illnesses worsened, how many at-risk children will be further behind their peers.
But we might save some lives, I hear over and over. I guess that is hard to argue. But, the same could be said of keeping kids home schooled every year, I suppose. According to the CDC, 64 children and adolescents under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19 as of last week. This is terrible, of course, but according to the CDC during a regular flu season, children deaths due to influenza range from 37 to 187 deaths. So, COVID is not discernibly worse than influenza for children. Yes, I know, the kids could get the disease and bring it home and give it to parents or grandparents. Thiss is why masks are required and we make ever reasonable effort to stop the spread to children even though the risk are relatively small.
Very nicely put. Many don't adequately account for the downside of staying on lock down. Difficult to accurately quantify the risks vs. benefits given all the unknowns, but neither should be ignored.