Musings of a school board member in the time of COVID-19

Our governor wants all public schools to go back to five days of in-person classes on January 20th, six weeks ahead of fully vaccinating all teachers and staff and weeks ahead of schools being prepared for class sizes twice as large as in the fall. School boards are being bombarded with emails and calls from community members, parents, teachers, teacher-parents, and staff who are either begging to go back full-time sooner or begging to stay blended for six more weeks. Physicians send conflicting data and analysis; like the Bible, you can use it to justify either position. Parents blame teachers for being cowardly, and teachers blame parents for not following COVID-19 safety guidelines at home.

As a school board member, my response is this:

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on many of our children is horrific. We all agree. The sooner we get students safely back into the classrooms full-time, the better. By safely, I mean for them, their families, and their teachers and school staff.

With the rollout of the vaccines, the goal of a safer school day for all is closer. The faster the governor releases CARES dollars and other funds, the faster we can meet his aspirational goals for public education in West Virginia. The more that responsible adults in our community follow CDC guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing, the faster we can meet all of our hopes for a return to full-time, in-person education.

I am hopeful that we can complete the employee vaccination process by the end of February, as well as create better social distancing protocols in our schools. Until then, I prefer to stay on the blended schedule, moving to five days soon thereafter. 

Petition the governor, petition the state board of education, wear your face-masks, and social distance. I am committed to this community and its children. I will do everything in my power to get our children back in school. But I differ with many of you on the best way to do that. Let’s talk together to find a consensus strategy to meet our common goal.”

I don’t yet know how my colleagues on the board will vote.

Perhaps if we can unify with the community around this issue, we can come together as a loving, kind, and tolerant community.

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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