The inestimable Ron French is out this week with a terrific article in Bridge on the exploding Covid crisis in Michigan’s schools, and the situation is indeed dire. Readers across the state must be wondering how we got here.
“Kids don’t catch the virus!”, they said.
“And if they do catch it, they don’t get sick!”, they said.
Even if those statements were true—and they are not—they completely miss the point.
Can children drive themselves to school?
Cook and serve school lunches?
Provide first aid if they get hurt?
Clean and disinfect classrooms?
Schools are not just places for children. The adults in schools also matter. The teachers, administrators, school cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, and all of the other “grown ups” who help schools run and serve the needs of our children. And these adults deserve to be treated with compassion and respect.
I am so tired of people demanding that schools remain open in the midst of a surging, out-of-control infectious pandemic. In the best of times schools are Petri dishes full of germs and unsanitary horrors. In the worst of times it’s lunacy to not lock the doors on every school in the country.
And spare me the “What if we wear masks and social distance?” rhetoric.
Can you wipe a runny nose on a kid wearing a mask?
Can you comfort a crying kindergartner or tie a dangling shoelace from 6 feet away?
Teachers being forced to teach face-to-face are doing their best to “make do” in a difficult situation—just as they always do, making magic happen without much-needed classroom materials, equipment and resources—but now they are literally risking their health and safety to do so.
Worst of all, we told you all of this.
We told you this would happen. Every bit of it.
We told you that kids would get sick. Teachers would get sick. There would be no subs. It wasn’t worth keeping schools open if people would get sick.
But no one listened.
Because no one ever listens to teachers.
It’s beyond insulting. It’s beyond infuriating.
This time it’s dangerous.
Listen. To. Teachers.
You just might learn something.