Alabama parents, do what you think is best. Do not apologize for it. Over the last several weeks, there has been an ongoing pressure campaign around the country, and particularly in Alabama, to get kids back into school buildings. The president has pushed it. Republicans in Congress have pushed it. Even local politicians are pushing it.
On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey told parents that missing school would potentially put Alabama school kids further behind. She encouraged them to get their kids back in school as soon as possible, because “it’s really important.”
Um, yeah. Do you think there are parents out there who don’t know that?
Furthermore, do people think there are parents who are gleeful about keeping their kids home from school? Who are keeping them out simply to be arbitrarily defiant? Who are being flippant about this decision in any way?
If you do, allow me to set you straight: We’re not.
Keeping children out of school, or even out of daycare in my case, is an incredibly hard decision and an even harder life adjustment. Because it disrupts EVERYTHING.
My wife and I are extremely fortunate to work for companies that are understanding and willing to work around our childcare situations. And even so, it has been a major adjustment.
We try to alternate and coordinate the best we can. We’ve hired people to help at times. And we’ve made the call to grandparents for assistance.
And still, there are days when we cannot get things done, when we’re both frazzled and frustrated.
We’re not doing any of that because it’s fun. Or because we’re giving Trump the middle finger.
We’re doing it because there is no good, safe — or even just saf-ER — option.
And I’m not necessarily talking about the danger for only our daughter, because she’s healthy and strong and would likely be just fine even if she happened to contract COVID-19.
But when could I safely let our child see her grandparents again? Her aunts and uncles and extended family members? What about the family members and friends who have underlying conditions?
And then there are larger questions. Like, are we helping to extend a pandemic by participating in what will inevitably lead to more virus spread?
Because that’s going to happen. There’s no way around it. If you put millions of children and adults in enclosed buildings all over the country, you’re going to spread this virus. Just like those schools spread the flu, colds and everything else.
Kids are going to take that virus home, just like they take home all those Fall colds and flu. And they’re going to infect others.
And the spread will come at the height of flu season, and at a time when ICU beds are already full.
That seems like a recipe for death and disaster.
And it shouldn’t be on parents. This decision shouldn’t be laid at our feet. In fact, there shouldn’t even be a decision for us to make.
The only reason we’re in this boat is because weak politicians, bowing to the ignorance of selfish people over the expertise and knowledge of doctors and scientists, refused to take hard, necessary steps for the proper lengths of time, and then compounded the problems by refusing to offer the necessary financial support to overcome those mistakes.
We could have implemented mask orders earlier, kept bars and nightclubs closed, restricted large gatherings more stringently and been serious about fines for dangerous behaviors — all the things that have worked so well in other countries.
At the same time, instead of forking over billions to companies that don’t need the money, we could have instead paid for a system that protected working parents’ jobs and their salaries.
But we didn’t. It was more important to “reopen” the economy for the big Memorial Day boom and to make sure the corporate pals got fatter.
And so now, here they are, asking parents to place the safety and health of their children, and, really, their entire families, on the line because they need to pretend that there’s some normalcy out there.
Don’t listen to them.
Get good, reliable facts from good, reliable sources. Do your research. Talk to your kids’ teachers and principals and superintendent. Weigh the options and the risks for yourself. And then you do what’s right for your family.
And don’t apologize for it.