In my worst nightmares, I could not have conceived of a pandemic, must less be deeply immersed in the research. Watching and listening to our leaders, checking percentages of infected adults and students in Collier County, Florida and worldwide. Listening to the concerns of parents and teachers, and trying to wrap my head around safety protocols and possible scenarios to return our students to the education they need and our teachers to the role they love.
So far, this endeavor has been fraught with conflict, contradictory information and statistics and of all things, conspiracy theories, which alter the honesty of truthful reporting of cases and the manipulation of numbers to mask the truth. Is it honest that the purposeful firing of professionals occurs, those hired to interpret and post the statistics, who refuse to capitulate to higher-ups to change the data? The silencing of experts, medical professionals on the front lines and at the front of our TVs, people we rely on for the truth, are squashed, discredited and absent from answering questions and interpreting the virus data with truthful statements.
Why the subterfuge? Why distort the truth? What could possibly be gained by hiding truthful information and spreading questionable information along with potential treatments that could kill you?
At a recent virtual Emergency CCPS School Board meeting, there were over 70 letters read into the record which contained concerns and pleas for answers. At the most recent July CCPS School Board meeting held in the CCPS Board Room, there was information shared by parents, teachers, students and experts in the medical field that was contradictory, but each based on research they had found. This is not a condemnation of research or criticism of the speakers, but an observation that each viewpoint had data and beliefs and stated that they were backed up by research from noted publications, research, scholarly and scientific.
With disparate information from multiple sources, in this case, the issue is whether to require masks in school for students and teachers. Some, based on their research, say the masks aren’t effective, they recycle carbon dioxide, germs and saliva and prevent adequate breathing.
The opposite view, based on their research, is that we should err on the side of caution to keep students, teachers and staff from becoming infected. There are many teachers/staff that have compromised immune systems and are caretakers for older relatives or have children with similar issues. How do we, safely, educate our most vulnerable students with physical, emotional or cognitive issues that require special accommodations? How do we do the right thing for our varied special needs students when we are “ordered” to return to school by date certain under threat of withholding necessary funding while we consult medical experts to determine the most effective methods to keep our fragile students safe and therefore, their immediate families?
It is inconceivable to me that we, in the education field, are faced with “decreased or no funding” vs “opening schools in a pandemic” especially when we know, based on research and evidence that the increase in COVID-19 is rising and the chances of infection are rising because of the lack of masks and social distancing, and common sense, or the belief that COVID-19 is a hoax. How many students, teachers, relatives, friends and others have to die before the reality smacks us in the face?
We’re all human, with frailties and smarts that have been cultivated for other challenges, NOT a pandemic, which seems to occur every 100 years or so. This is new territory for all of us. Some are overconfident and thriving on ego and speculation, but not reality. Others? Listening, learning, doublechecking the facts from many reputable sources and triple-checking the facts from reputable sources and researching the rest of the world for information.
Let’s take COVID-19 seriously and let’s get together, put this virus out of business and move on to a future more savvy and aware than we were before. Because we should not deceive ourselves; it will happen again. The reality is that there are big challenges ahead and we’ll have to be open to change, inquisitive and flexible without being judgmental. Will we be stronger and smarter or more gullible and deceived by propaganda? I hope that, collectively, we’ll share information positively and strive for the greater good. Usually, change occurs over long periods of time, however, this is our most recent medical challenge since the HIV crisis, and we are forced to make changes rapidly. The question is are we ready and willing to make the leap into problem-solving? We’d better! So let’s adapt and be strong. Together, we can do this.