Reopening Schools Is About Politics, Not Our Kids' Safety

by Nikkya Hargrove
Originally Published: 
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It began long before school doors even opened, the push to bring politics into a national health crisis to benefit politicians instead of keeping the best interest of our kids (and their health) in mind. Our current president, who has no interest in serving the American people — outside of his people, like Michael Flynn and friends— pushed schools to open before he considered (or even knew) the facts. While common sense should prevail in situations such as these, sometimes common sense isn’t so common.

We know our kids need an education, and if life were normal right now, most of our children would be sitting in a classroom learning. In a 2017-2018 data report from the Department of Education, over 130,000 kids were attending school in the United States. But life is not normal for any of us, especially our children, right now. And you know who isn’t helping life get back to normal? Our politicians.

What politicians need to understand is that sending our kids to school should not be about policy. It’s about balancing our kids’ educational needs with doing what’s right for the health and well-being of our students — and the school staff, and especially the teachers. Our politicians are gambling with our lives and our children’s lives by failing to come up with a cohesive national plan of action to keep us safe during this pandemic. Because of our president’s refusal to believe in science and data, and tendency to send inaccurate messages about the virus, there has been no solid leadership from the person who is supposed to provide it: someone who is more concerned with being right than keeping the public safe.

We, as parents, know full well that we did not sign up to be teachers and parents and employees at the same time. Teachers didn’t sign up to teach on Zoom or Google Classroom; they signed up to have a classroom full of students with whom they can make connections, who they can see grow emotionally, academically, mentally, and spiritually. Teachers have jobs that are invaluable to the health of our nation and the future of our country.


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Politicians should be regarded in the same way, but they are failing us. Some mayors and governors are leaving what happens to our kids in the hands of some school districts, and frankly, many of those districts are doing a better job than our elected officials. Let’s take New York and Ohio, for example. CNN reporter Gregory Krieg shares, “New York City, where cases are down to their lowest figures since mid-March, has proposed a ‘blended learning’ plan that would see a mix of remote and in-person learning. Columbus, Ohio, is pursuing a similar strategy for younger students.”

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but what is clear is that it’s not really — and should have never been — about politics. Krieg goes on to say, “The fight is unfolding as large swaths of the United States report record COVID-19 case counts and some state and local officials consider reimposing the public safety restrictions. Meanwhile, Trump — whose poll numbers continue to lag behind former Vice President Joe Biden — faces a credibility gap stemming from his inconsistent and often counterfactual statements about the crisis, which could do him outsize harm in the already perilous suburbs.”

COVID-19 is not going anywhere, and we have to figure out the safest way to live with it.

Just weeks after winning the election, president-elect Joe Biden had his COVID-19 taskforce in place. Recently he announced committing to having schools reopen in his first 100 days, and he’s working out a plan before he takes office, which makes sense. These action steps draw a very distinct line between what is happening right now and what the plan is for our kids’ education: our next president is using common sense to safely reopen schools.

In an announcement, he said, “It should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school. If Congress provides the funding, we need to protect students, educators, and staff. If states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days.” And yes, it should be a national priority, not an us-versus-them approach to sending our kids back to school.

Our politicians should be keeping our children’s best interests at the forefront of every decision they make. It is not about being a Republican or Democrat. It is not about who has won the electoral vote or the popular vote. It is not about who can say the dumbest shit on Twitter. What we have before us are many politicians who act like kindergartners and have tantrums because they think they didn’t win an election, or they prioritize their popularity over doing what’s best for the American people — even if it’s not the easiest choice.

As parents, we have one job, and that is to show up for our kids, to be there for them in every single way. Our politicians have one job, and that is to show up for us, our families, and to do what is right for the collective unit. It would be nice if they would do that job without letting their political interests interfere with making the safest, most scientifically-informed choices.

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