I think many of us are in a state of disbelief with the times we are living in. We wake up every day to more horror stories as Covid-19 continues to spread and we learn that we are living in the world epicenter of coronavirus infections. There are so many different opinions on how we should be handling this pandemic and how to move forward. Getting our children back to school and getting them back safely is one of the biggest concerns for parents right now.
There seems to be a consensus that we all should wear masks and socially distance. However, there seems to be less agreement on whether our children should attend school in person or continue to home school.
Two weeks ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being,” and that early evidence from school closures in the spring of this year shows the negative impacts of time away from school, including “social isolation, learning deficits and interruption of supportive services.” This week, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed course and issued a new statement that schools should reopen only on a case-by-case basis, and that markers for safety should be determined by local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents working together.
Schools are sending out surveys and asking parents to select an in-school option or online platform. Every family is debating what is right for them. I have attended town halls and zoom calls, conducted independent research and spoken to teachers and medical providers about this.
At this time, I am making the difficult choice to continue with an online education for my four children. Dr. Paul Robinson, the President of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics describes children as “super-spreaders.” He acknowledges that in his house, like mine, when children get sick, the whole family gets sick. I have experienced ailments from a simple head cold to the flu spread throughout my entire family that my children have contracted in classrooms. Increasing my concern is the fact that my parents and family members suffer from pre-existing conditions. I worry every day about them contracting this virus, as they are at a much higher risk for developing devastating symptoms.
Of course, I want my children back in a traditional classroom but I worry about what happens the moment a child, teacher or staff member tests positive for Covid -19. Do the schools have enough capacity to test and contact trace that entire cluster? If the answer is no, then I don’t see how we can send children back to school at this time.
Covid-19 remains a very real threat. And if we cannot contain the spread, then we are putting the lives of thousands of children and families at risk.
I have been on the Aventura Charter School Advisory Board for the past six years, on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Co-Op school in Hollywood for seven years and I was the Vice Chair of the Don Soffer Aventura Charter High School Foundation Board. I believe parents need to be involved in helping schools make these important decisions for our children.
Please email me or call me at 305-203-2714 with any questions and concerns you have about the upcoming school year, and let’s start making sure our schools are taking the necessary steps before, during and after schools reopen to protect the safety of our students, teachers, staff and families.