It has come to the attention of this website that teachers are circulating a petition to keep schools closed in the fall. This petition is aimed at the Texas Education Agency and requesting that remote learning be the default for the entire fall semester. Apparently sending teachers and children back into the classroom is “reckless and selfish.” But for whom, and who is really being selfish here?
Aren’t teachers supposed to pay attention to science?
The science does not support continued school closures, particularly if these teachers claim to care about children so much. A particularly compelling study came out of Iceland that actually sequenced genomes and found that the primary way COVID-19 is transmitted is not via children and adolescents. In fact, if a child does get infected, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll transmit the virus to an adult. This is from sequencing genomes. This is not the anecdotal “evidence” that your friend’s cousin’s sister gave you about this one daycare where all the kids infected all the adults. And this study doesn’t just apply to Iceland; here are a few other studies that should be read before the tantrums begin:
- Ireland: Children aren’t spreading COVID-19
- The Netherlands: Children aren’t spreading COVID-19 (and don’t need to be kept 1.5 meters apart)
- A very thorough summary of papers from AROUND THE WORLD that says children aren’t spreading COVID-19 (do you see a pattern here? We sure do.)
Also, panic peddlers, it’s important to also note a study from The Lancet that found that children, if they contract COVID-19, they generally have very mild symptoms. There are a few, rare exceptions – but that’s the case with any disease, even the flu.
The fatality rate for COVID-19 is 1%. ONE PERCENT. If you’re under 60, that rate drops dramatically.
If you care about children, you’d want them in the classroom
There is no substitute for in-classroom learning, and there is no way remote learning or watching a teacher lecture on a computer screen is going to make up for that. What we’ve learned from this failed experiment in virtual learning is that children are starting the school year with 63-68% of the learning gains they would normally have made in reading, compared to in-classroom learning – and only 37-50% of the learning gains in math. If you keep schools on “remote learning” or “virtual learning” for much longer, there will be no way for students to make up those losses.
Here’s what’s really going to kill children
Further, the toll from not being in school is much harsher than the threat of contracting COVID-19 for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in its initial statement, noted that:
“Schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being and provide our children and adolescents with academic instruction, social and emotional skills, safety, reliable nutrition, physical/speech and mental health therapy, and opportunities for physical activity, among other benefits.”
If that isn’t enough of a reason to reopen schools with in-classroom learning, consider this: The statement then goes on to detail why the AAP wants schools to open in the fall. And it’s because of the toll of social isolation, as well as how it’s often teachers who identify signs of physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse, and depression or suicidal tendencies. Not opening schools places children at risk of dying. Literally.
(It’s also important to note that the AAP agrees that children are not the primary “asymptomatic shedders” that the media and panic peddlers are so frantic about.)
Let’s take a long, hard look at who remote learning hurts.
Economically disadvantaged students. First of all, is it even realistic to expect CCISD, or any district, to provide every single child with a device to complete their lessons? There are still children who are homeless, who cannot charge the devices or access the Internet. Then what do they do? They continue to fall behind their peers and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. The achievement gap widens – “to a gulf,” as one survey found. One study found that one in three – ONE THIRD – of children eligible for free meals only complete ONE hour of schoolwork per day when they’re thrust into a remote environment.
Special education students. We’ve seen how Special Education students are treated in CCISD. And for them, it only gets worse when they no longer have their in-classroom support. There is no one to help a dyslexic child read, or an autistic child remain focused in the classroom. It is just the child, the parent, and a computer. And parents send their children, particularly their special needs children, to school because there are trained professionals who can provide intervention and help their children function. During the lockdowns, parents saw their Special Education students regress at an alarming rate.
Students with working parents. Anyone who thinks that one parent can manage remote or virtual learning while still holding down a full-time job (even working from home) has obviously not been a part of this failed learning experiment. It becomes a choice between herding the child toward the device to learn, and supervising, or doing actual work and keeping food on the table. Single parents, and their children, are hit the hardest.
Selfish, useful idiots, or both?
So these teachers signing this petition, are they selfish, useful idiots, or both? We think both. We think they’re incredibly misinformed, and that they want to be lauded as “heroes” but are too busy demanding “safety” at the expense of the children they claim to care about. We think they’ve bought into the panic peddlers’ narrative.
We also think that, if Dr. Greg Smith wants to leave a better legacy that a school district that he managed to bring from an A rating to a B rating, he needs to identify the names of every single teacher who signed a petition like this and fire them – or at the very least, harshly discipline them. This is not what “heroes” do. This is what cowards do, cowards that are not thinking for themselves.
It’s time to show leadership and do the right thing for the children. Not cower in fear.