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September 22, 2020

Options for schooling

Opinion

September 22, 2020

This novel coronavirus still stumps world-renowned epidemiologists. How can parents adequately ascertain what’s best? My kids have tearfully intimated on more occasions than I care to acknowledge that they want to go back – to actually leave the house, learn from their teachers in person, spend time with friends beyond a laptop screen. My husband and I want that, too. If only it were that simple.

By August 30 at least 36 states had reported positive cases at colleges and universities, adding more than 8,700 cases to America’s total. My heart sinks thinking of that now-infamous photo of Georgia high school students – a state where I once lived – maskless and crammed together in a narrow hallway, no social distancing in sight. Predictably, nine students and staff tested positive for Covid and the school temporarily closed. It’s not quite a ringing endorsement for return.

And those were teenagers. Theoretically, they have the capacity to grasp the consequences of a public health crisis. My rambunctious 8- and 6year-old sons? Not so much. Before the pandemic, we were still working on the whole ‘wash your hands’ thing. I am not optimistic they could keep a mask on for an entire school day.

The story of little Kimora Lynum – ‘Kimmie’ as her family affectionately called her – adds to my never-ending anxiety. The 9year-old Florida girl loved to play video games and dance to YouTube and TikTok videos, just like my boys. After a sudden onset of a high fever and severe stomach pains in July, Kimmie was misdiagnosed with a urinary tract infection at a local hospital. She was sent home with Tylenol and antibiotics. Less than a week later, she died. A posthumous test determined Kimmie had Covid.

My heart aches for her mother, Mikasha Young-Holmes, who lost her only child. The preliminary evidence suggests younger children are less likely to become infected, but it is hard to stave off the fear of one of my sons becoming that rare case. Kimmie was African American, like my family and me. Statistically, we are at elevated risk.

But I admit I face yet another truth, as do many parents who privately admit it: I am tired. We want back our ‘BC’ lives, the ones from ‘before Covid-19’. Having kids in school would certainly help. My family and I have done our best to stay upbeat and creative, but we can only do so many movie nights, paint parties and day trips confined in a car.

And I recognize the privilege that boredom and cabin fever are among our most pressing concerns. Millions of Americans are struggling with illness, loss of life, and loss of livelihoods. Many parents have been deemed ‘essential’, forcing them to the front lines. Without schools open, where will their children go while they go to work?

Excerpted from: ‘All the Options for Schooling Are Bad–But We Have to Choose Safety’

Commondreams.org