Last Sunday morning, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was interviewed for 20 minutes on CNN. Her mantra was “schools must reopen.”
DeVos’s answers to questions were so limited, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Mass. tweeted this: “@BetsyDeVosED you have no plan. Teachers, kids and parents are fearing for their lives. I wouldn’t trust you to care for a houseplant let alone my child.”
Closer to home, I know parents, teachers and students are anxious to learn about Laguna’s blueprint for reopening its schools this fall. With this in mind, I urge the district’s school board members to consider these questions before finalizing any plan to welcome students back into their classrooms. For example:
– As a parent, should I let my child ride the bus to school? Virtually everyone knows the bus is a petri dish for kids passing cold and flu germs. How will each bus be safe from COVID-19?
– If teachers test positive for COVID-19, will they be quarantined for two weeks? If so, will their sick leave be covered (i.e., be paid) and will they still be required to teach from home?
– If a Thurston or high school teacher, who typically has five classes a day with 30 students in each class, contracts the virus, what happens to the 150 students? Will they be allowed to pass each other in hallways and/or how quickly can they be tested?
– If 150 students are exposed to the virus, what happens if they expose their siblings or parents? How long will it take for them to be tested?
– What if an infected teacher’s spouse or children test positive for the virus? Who will pay for their tests?
– If need be, how and where will the district find substitute teachers willing to work in classrooms full of exposed, possibly infected, students?
– Substitutes teach in multiple schools. What if they are diagnosed with COVID-19? Do the students in all the other schools need to be tested? How long will it take for them to get their results?
– How many teachers in Laguna are over 45? According to the CDC, more than 17 percent of the total number of COVID deaths in the U.S. are people between the ages of 45 to 65.
Mine is but a very short list of questions the school board needs to answer before Laguna’s schools can safely reopen this fall. I wonder how many other questions need to be answered?
Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach