It’s somehow become commonplace for some Americans to proudly put their wants and needs before the best interests of society.
Some have rationalized this kind of selfishness in the name of “freedom”.
Many of these same people feel entitled to make choices to suit themselves, even if these personal choices may negatively affect, hurt, or even kill other citizens.
Most astonishingly, far from loving our neighbors as ourselves, many Americans have flaunted the fact that they do not care about anyone else. Scared people, deemed sheeples, are told to “stay home” by those who say, “We have to live our lives.”
Tell me, what kind of life are you living if you have no concern for others?
What kind of parenting is that when you are teaching your children that they’re entitled to live their lives with this same disregard for others?
People with this attitude have never heard that a country, a school, a town, or a house divided can’t stand.
Or maybe they don’t care if it does.
Too many Americans have refused to accept that Covid-19 will not bend to our wishes or admit that we are not “owed” anything by a pandemic, even the things we previously took for granted.
This includes nights out at bars, movie theaters, parties, concerts, and yes, even sending our kids to schools.
For the record, I miss all of these things.
What do we think people during the Spanish Flu were entitled to?
What about during the Black Plague? Or are we somehow able to look back with the perspective of time to see that during difficult times such as those, a longing to return to “normal life” while understandable, was obviously unachievable?
Instead of coming together as one to fight the virus, which is the real enemy of our “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” right now, some Americans have succumbed to name-calling, belittling, and bullying others.
It doesn’t work to get a pandemic under control.
It doesn’t work to open the economy.
It doesn’t work to open schools.
A pandemic can’t be brought under control by denying its danger.
A country can’t come together by making an enemy out of half its citizens.
Schools can’t succeed by making enemies out of teachers.
This very vocal laying of blame on teachers is especially disturbing.
Last spring when schools initially closed their doors, teachers were praised by parents newly confronted with having to oversee their children’s learning at home. Parents realized they didn’t appreciate, respect, and thank teachers enough.
We all wanted to buy them wine and chocolates.
Now they’ve been turned into the enemy and some think they know what teachers should do better than teachers do.
These parents are mistakenly looking at how fed up and tired we are with the pandemic (because we are) as some kind of barometer to determine what they and others should now do. They are unwilling to admit that “normal life” is not possible because these are not normal times.
How tired we are of staying home, how much we want our kids to go back to in-person learning, or even how difficult it is for them to learn online has no bearing on whether or not it’s “time” to open up schools because it doesn’t prove anything about the safety of doing so.
Looking at any of these to determine if schools should be reopened is like looking at a thermometer to determine what time it is.
The information it gives you may be accurate, but it’s answering the wrong question.
And that’s what’s causing some to cast blame in the wrong places.
In our school district, the number of families who wanted their kids to go back for in-person learning outnumbered the number of staff needed that are willing to teach in the buildings. It was determined impossible to open up schools while adhering to state and county mandated safety regulations.
As a result, all students will be learning online for the first semester.
For single parents who need to work outside of the house, for married parents who both need to work outside the home, for essential workers and parents of kids who need a more specialized learning plan to address social, emotional or learning challenges, not having the option of in-person learning for their kids presents a big problem.
This is undeniable.
Even if we just need uninterrupted hours during the day to get our work done, this is a problem.
Some of these parents will have to determine who will watch their kids during the day or how they can still work and support distance learning, or even if they will have to choose their job or providing their children with adult supervision during the day.
This reality will make their lives the next few months, after a summer of looking forward to the return to school in the fall, very difficult. The end they thought they saw no longer exists.
It is a heavy burden and, for some, impossible to shoulder.
But teachers are not the ones to blame.
The number of teachers not wanting to go back into school buildings isn’t truly what’s at the root of these problems.
It’s only a symptom of the United States’ failure to get Covid-19 under control, even after 5 months.
Many teachers (as well as parents) do not have confidence in the safety and wisdom of reopening school buildings and sending kids back in, even with masks and social distancing, limited hours, temperature checks, and regular sanitizing and disinfection, in places where those have been proposed.
This lack of confidence is not unfounded. Stories of what has happened at other schools after they opened in other parts of the country are easy to find. In one school district in Georgia, during the first week of school 925 students and staff were asked to quarantine after Covid-19 exposure in classrooms.
Most troubling for middle school and high school teachers is the growing evidence that teenagers can spread the virus, as well as adults, do. South Korean researchers discovered that children aged 10 to 19 are just as likely to spread Covid-19 to both peers and adults.
In response to the superintendent’s email sent this week, I saw parents suggesting protests and demanding they get their school taxes refunded.
You can’t legislate or mandate people into being comfortable doing things they don’t feel safe doing.
It’s that simple.
The question is, how did we get to the point where some people feel they are entitled to decide what risks others should be comfortable taking? Did the rising rates of gun violence in school in the last two decades lead us to start believing that risking your life is to be expected as a teacher?
If this is the case, then perhaps they should be given hazard pay every year.
The anger focused on teachers right now is shocking, sad, but most of all, misdirected.
What parents should be frustrated about is that the school district opting to go all online for the first semester will not be enough to change the reality of this situation or the prevalence of the virus.
Just like in the spring, how certain states closed down and others didn’t, and then some counties opened up before others, this is only a stop-gap. This type of piecemeal approach to the problem of this virus will provide no solution. It’s only kicking the can.
And it won’t work.
Most importantly, in looking at how other countries reopened schools, we need to look at what they did before they reopened schools.
What level did they get the virus down to?
What practices and, yes, sacrifices, did citizens commit to?
The most disturbing post I saw was made by an angry parent asking a group of strangers online for a referral to a doctor who was “generous” in giving out no mask notes.
Despite the mandate and the evidence that wearing masks help protect others (in schools this means other students and teachers), they wanted to send their kid back to school without a mask.
When they’re looking for someone to blame today for schools being unable to open in-person, I hope this mother doesn’t forget to look in the mirror.
And she isn’t the only one. The truth is too many people don’t want to wear masks or social distance and also want schools and the economy to open up.
It doesn’t work.
And that’s why we are where we are. This is the attitude that’s to blame.
If we want schools to re-open in person, the United States needs all citizens to commit to working to getting this virus under control. That means we must all take action, together, for the good of the country. This means we must support one another.
And that includes teachers.
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