School Boards in the time of COVID 19

“You board members will rue the day you voted to open schools for face to face instruction.”

“How dumb can you board members be—desk shields are useless.”

“My children need to be in school. I cannot stay home from work and they cannot learn on their own.”

“Please G-d, make the right decision no matter what politics the Governor is playing.”

Most emails start with a “thank you for your hard work, I know there are no decisions which will satisfy everyone” and then they go to concerns, threats, pleas and suggestions. Some emails skip the thank you. I try to answer each email within 24 hours, so does my superintendent.  Admittedly, we don’t address the details of their comments, just promise to consider them.

I feel empowered to make a decision independent of either my board colleagues or community members. I am not running for re-election. Unfortunately, I am as confused as everyone else is. My confusion stems from the inordinate amount of conflicting information available. At some point, you have to conclude that everyone is spinning the data for their own political agenda. While I am convinced the president is the worst of the prevaricators, and the most heinous, neither do I find the Democrats any more trustworthy.

Mental health experts and sociologists agree that small children need face-to-face learning. Middle schoolers need in-person social interaction. High school students need rigor. Grandparents need to be protected from getting COVID from the grandkids they are raising, but equally need some respite from 24/7 parenting. How to decide?  I’ve often heard the quote “We can’t let perfect by the enemy of better” but better has to be the best we can achieve. How do we know we are at “better”.

I heard one parent say that virtual is the only way. And when asked about parents who are not home, they replied, well they have to do the same thing they do for a snow day! In WV we might have a handful of snow days, not a semester full. The lack of empathy between those with options and those without is stunning, shocking and sad.

How will I vote? Will my vote even matter? Woe to the educational decision makers in the era of COVID 19, dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.  I don’t believe post pandemic education will be anything like pre-pandemic education, nor will society. The upheaval will change the financial, economic, industrial, and social landscape with one thing for certain—today’s losers will be tomorrows losers, there will just be more of them and they will be worse off.

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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