Schools, Teachers, and Covid: Disregard Students

Schools, Teachers, and Covid: Disregard Students

Schools, Teachers, and Covid: Disregard Students

As schools reopen around the country, the Covid furor between teachers, parents, and unions ignores the needs of the students. The divide between “go back in person” and “stay remote until there’s a cure” is growing. Teachers and unions unwilling to acknowledge the adverse effects of the “new normal” that are putting kids at risk. 

The majority of children need to be in school

Most children need to be in school with a teacher, and friends in their classroom. Period.

The American Association of Pediatrics writes in “Planning Considerations: Guidance for school Re-entry” (8/20),

The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.”

Negative impacts you say? Like increased risk of suicide? Increased risks of unreported sexual or physical abuse? More street violence? Yes to all of these, and more. Lisa Damour, an adolescent psychologist tells NPR,

Teenagers are in a developmental space where it is critically important that they have regular contact with their peers and are able to develop close and ongoing relationships with adults outside the home, such as their teachers, their coaches, their advisers,”

Many kids who are not in school are on the streets. North Philadelphia has seen a 43% increase in teen gun violence – a total of 70 teenagers have been shot in 2020. They are young, Black, and not in school. I don’t see Black Lives marching down those North Philly streets protesting for kids to get back in school. Why are there no teachers unions threatening a walk-out to protect the children dying in the gutters.

Bad alternatives are not valid solutions. Distance learning is failing our kids

My kids school district delayed reopening by a few weeks. Forcing everyone back into distance learning until the district held a better grasp of the “return to the classroom” situation. “The situation” being teachers who wanted to continue teaching remotely and not return back to the classroom. Educators who work away from the campus, yet retain the full benefits of being a teacher, would rather work from home. Shocking right?

Unfortunately for the “phone it in” teachers, most parents across our district – and the nation, have come to the realization that distance learning is not learning, but a “check in the box” to education funding. Both the parent and student are experiencing frustration, anxiety, and stress directly related to endless hours parked in front of a screen. It’s the school house version of the Zoom meeting from Hell. For children.

When did the pediatrician stop asking about my kids “screen time”? Back when our schools went on-line in April.

New York Post writes,

What’s clear is that distance-learning isn’t just a waste of time, it is actually doing harm to children. And worst of all, it is those we have entrusted with their safety that are putting it in jeopardy.”

Overwhelmingly, when given the choice, parents are opting to send their kids back to school for in-person schooling. In my district of 11,000 students, over 60% of K-12 parents have committed to in class instruction. If distance learning was effective with positive outcomes, keeping kids home would be the easy choice. But it’s not effective. Parents are functioning as IT support, classroom assistant, or re-learning K-12 as their child bumbles through often complex platforms (I’m looking at you Edgenuity!), and ineffective “educational videos” located on YouTube or Khan Academy.

Some bad teachers & their unions: “It’s all about the children… as hostages for our demands.”

We, and many schools across the country, are blessed to have some amazing teachers. People who put their students ahead of themselves. Men and women who spend personal time and treasure making sure that every child has what they need to succeed. I love and support good teachers (even those in my own family – Jen!). But, not all teachers share those traits.

It’s to these teachers, and their unions, that this section is dedicated.

In his opinion piece, “Teacher unions are holding America’s students hostage“, Chris Talgo writes in The Hill,

… teacher unions (and their political allies) are holding America’s students hostage in a devil’s bargain for more money and power.”

Say it ain’t so!! He continues,

 Los Angeles Teachers Union (LATU) list of demands includes “implementing a moratorium on private schools, defunding the police, increasing taxes on the wealthy, implementing Medicare for all, and passing the HEROES Act, which allocated an additional $116 billion in federal education funding to the states.”

I AM SHOCKED!! Children are being held as bargaining chips over the “altar of woke social justice” by the teachers mafia union.

Chris nails the crux of the current situation across the country, and the teachers who refuse to re-enter the classroom,

Like it or not, America’s teachers are essential workers. Grocery store clerks, gas station attendants and a whole host of other “essential workers” have braved the pandemic. Why shouldn’t teachers do the same?”

Are teachers essential or not? Why is the grocery employee (usually a kid in High School) forced to work in a “high risk” environment when on-line ordering and grocery delivery is a staple across the country? Unlike First Responders and medical workers, the grocery clerk didn’t sign on for this level of risk.

But they show up and do their jobs. So why can’t teachers?

Follow the science… to Homeroom!

Some teachers are concerned about exposing themselves or their families to Coronavirus. Many districts are following CDC guidelines, and have afforded “high-risk” teachers the option to stay remote while proctors monitor students in the classroom. Obviously, this option is limited and applied on a sliding scale of risk assessment.

For example, our district was limited to 70 spaces for remote teaching. The remaining 107 denied teachers now need to make their choice and return to school, or find alternative employment. Some are opting to retire, and others are opting to complain that the safety measures are inadequate.

A snapshot of what in person school looks like at an affluent school district in Texas Hill Country:

PPE and protective measures provided by the school district:

  • N95 masks and face shields
  • Gowns to cover staff clothing, disposable after every class
  • 6′ perimeter marked around teacher space
  • Floor marking to designate where students may stand in the classroom
  • All students must wear a mask. Some classes require both face shield and mask
  • Classroom and common area cleaning between classes
  • Unlimited sanitization wipes
  • Faculty use of showers before leaving campus

And yet, many teachers would rather complain that there isn’t enough being done to keep them safe. Therefore, they should not be made to choose between employment and their risk of infection.

About that risk… Our district has instituted a tracking app for the schools. Currently there are two positive cases, for a total percentage of 0.018% of 11,016 students. And that risk to staff… Zero staff are infected. Following the science, it makes sense.

The New York Post writes,

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, 94 percent of COVID deaths have involved people with an average of 2.6 other conditions; 92 percent were 55 or older, an age when many teachers have already retired. Younger people often don’t get sick or, if they do, recover quickly.”

The math doesn’t add up for staying out of school

Even in liberal cities like New York, parents are pushing a return to in-person schools. Unfortunately a district staffed by educators entrenched in the teachers union has limited options when teachers refuse to return. Teachers are refusing to return, despite the extraordinary safety measures outlined by The New York Post,

the city is taking countless steps to make schools safe. It set up testing routines, contact tracing, ventilation procedures, hybrid schedules and numerous other measures. Kids whose parents have concerns can opt for online instruction only. Teachers with serious medical issues can get exemptions.”

The article continues,

The mayor’s reopening plan is not safe,” huffed a teachers-union caucus, the Movement of Rank and File Educators. It blasted the city for “inadequate contact tracing and a lack of transparency” and threatened that teachers wouldn’t return until they’re satisfied — which looks like never.”

I feel for the children in NYPS system. They are suffering for the greed, and hyped-up fear from professionals who are supposed to care about them.

Where do we go from here?

Individual counties and school districts will have to decide where their numbers need to be before they allow schools to re-open. But they must also address the gaps in the current systems. Be it hybrid, remote, or in-person with a remote teacher – the one constant is that children should always be the focus of the plan. Schools are not built as places to employ teachers, but places to educate children.

This is where we are, but not where we need to stay:


Thank You, Sarah, and Welcome to our Instapundit readers.



Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons / Leaflet License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Image Cropped:400×400

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"CC" to her friends. Recent escapee from Northern VA to the Great State of Texas. I'm a Pro-LIfe, Pro-Gun, Libertarian type... There is very little that fresh lime juice and good tequila can't fix.

  • GWB says:

    Most children need to be in school with a teacher
    [deletes long rants]
    No. Most children need to be with their parents. We’ve constructed a society that can’t manage that for numerous fortunate and unfortunate reasons. A great deal else follows from that.

    Rabid Homeschooler

    • I love homeschool. Legit I think it’s the best thing ever. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of producing a well rounded homeschooled student. There are crappy parents out there, GWB, and they propagate but don’t educate. In a perfect world we’d all have a great Socratic and Classic Conversation Homeschool environment.
      But, I’m a realist.
      So, it’s those kids who fall under “most”, because the only option for them is public school. Especially if they live in an environment where it’s dangerous or abusive.
      I’m all for changing the systems to actually DO what they think they do. And as a parent who fights the daily intrusion of “modern culture” beating down her kids childhoods, I’d rather see a kid in need attend a public school than stay home 24/7 in a neglectful, abusive environment. It’s NOT the job of public schools to function in that capacity, but because teachers see the same kids everyday they are in a position to intervene.
      As much as I love HS for the unrestricted ability to let students “think” and investigate (something PS does not allow), there are a good number of parents incapable of teaching those skills because they lack them.
      Overall, there is a lot to dislike about public schools. Unfortunately for a large number of kids, it’s the best (and only) option available.

      • GWB says:

        There are crappy parents out there, GWB, and they propagate but don’t educate.
        Given what I’ve seen, the number of children with parents who fall into that group is less than the number of children who suffer from bad public school administrators, curriculum, and pedagogy.
        Though I am willing to be corrected on that by enough examples of previously public-school indoctrinated parents who will simply provide progressive propaganda to their children.
        (BTW, one of the biggest reason for the success of homeschoolers is that those who homeschool are those who would otherwise be involved in their children’s education even if they were in public school. And parental involvement has been shown to be on of the largest impacts on school success. But more parents are being driven into that category by the current idiocy surrounding Winnie The Flu and shutdowns.)

        a great Socratic and Classic Conversation Homeschool environment
        Definitely not the only method of homeschooling.

        Especially if they live in an environment where it’s dangerous or abusive.
        And when you identify those children, I’m more than happy to institutionalize their learning. But not to put all children into that setting just in case.

        there are a good number of parents incapable of teaching those skills because they lack them
        Primarily because they were… educated in public school systems.

        it’s the best (and only) option available
        FIFY. Which is why school choice is so important.

        My point is that kids do NOT need to be in a public school classroom. They do need to be in groups of other kids at least part of the day, and they need to be in a safe environment to learn, and they need to be filled with facts and taught to critically evaluate those facts. Fewer and fewer pieces of our public school systems provide all (or even one) of those elements satisfactorily.

        And parents are starting to, just maybe, figure that out. Which is one of the best ‘silver linings’ of Winnie The Flu’s massive overreaction.

        (And I’m not bashing any of your points about how crappily the education establishment is handling this current fiasco.)

  • Quentin-Q Quill says:

    I’d say that children need to be with their parents and also in a setting that provides them a good edcation whether that be in a public,school, private school, or home school. How many parents, for example can have a lab setting to adequately teach high school chemistry? I’ve known home school students who had excellent educations,, and I’ve known home school students who had an abysmal education. I know one man whose parents pulled him out of middle school because he was having behavior problems in school and his parents simply didn’t want to deal with it. When he was older, he referred to his home schooling as “no schooling.” I know a middle school math teacher who said it’s usual for her to have to catch students up with their math skills who were home schooled durign their elementary years. It seems to just depend on the parents, the students, the schools, and the age of the students.

  • What the brain dead teachers don’t understand, especially in NYC, is that the gov’t will use this to vaporize jobs. Even though the NY pension is in comparatively decent shape, the teachers are begging to stay home and GET PAID for a few hours a day on the laptop. It’s much easier that way. What they, of course, don’t realize, being unable to think more than 15 minutes ahead, is that teachers will be given 200 online students, and they’ll begin eliminating jobs. They are allowed to do this.

    Corona-Chan has brought quite a bit out into the open. Lots of dead wood will be burnt, and the school industrial complex will be an example.

    • Exactly correct about the jobs elimination. And not just in NYC. My district in Texas is paying substitute rates ($110/per day) for adults with 60 or more college credit hours to sit in a school class and “proctor” (babysit) students who are remote learning. Essentially they are paying twice for the same group of students. Calculate this for a school year, and that’s a lot of money. 10% of our MS and HS teachers are staying remote. Annual teacher salaries in our district are $54,000, added to the 70 daily subs/proctors….. It won’t take long for the district to hear from outraged taxpayers (and we pay a TON of property taxes in TX) about the issue.
      Are teachers essential will become “are teachers necessary?”

  • as a P.S.
    I’d like to address my sources and quotes. I use sources that liberals consider “a gold standard” because I really enjoy using their sources to support arguments against their agenda. It’s delicious when I can undercut their ideals with their media.
    It’s also important to me that I can find and share resources to expand a discussion beyond our own echo-chamber. A conservative argument supported with only conservative sources is still a limited discussion. I don’t always agree with the sources I use, but I’d be remiss to ignore them. Wars are not won by studying our own battle plan and information, but by familiarizing ourselves with those of our adversary.
    😉 And NO, I’m not a liberal, progressive, center-left person. I’m a pro-life libertarian who refuses to drink anyone’s Kool-aid.

    • GWB says:

      If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
      Sun Tzu, The Art of War

      (And, I appreciate our back-and-forths.)

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