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A mother copes with the back-to-school mess



Our government is failing to make schools safe

students, parents, teachers, schools, opening

In New York City, as of August 24, parents were being told their kids would start school on September 10, and the hybrid schedule will have in-person learning Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday, plus every other Monday. But parents didn't know which of these schedules their own children were assigned to, or if the plan, as it stood, would be cancelled in favor of all-remote learning.


New York Times
columnist Michelle Goldberg found herself searching for a solution that would provide stability. Should they move to the coronavirus hotspot where her parents live so they can help out with the kids? Or spend all the family's savings on a homeschool learning pod?

“A friend who works in chronically underfunded city high schools,” wrote Goldberg, “pointed out that privileged parents like me are getting a taste of something that other urban parents have always gone through.” And like low-income parents at the mercy of an erratic system, Goldberg was feeling abandoned by the government.

She starts her criticism at the top, with a president who refuses to accept scientific data and has provoked fears that schools cannot open safely, even in New York, where infection rates are currently low. Republican senators have refused to approve funding for upgrading school ventilation systems and other safety measures. State budget cuts may force the layoff of 9,000 teachers.

Goldberg was relieved to learn that the city now has plans for outdoor classrooms, while wondering why they weren't revealed sooner.

She quotes psychotherapist Lesley Alderman, who says parents with young children are the most stressed by the situation and feel guilt for wanting their kids back in school when there's a risk of illness for students and teachers. But, asks Goldberg, why should parents be feeling like failures for not being able to handle their upended lives? Why isn't the government making schools safe?

“There are only two ways out of pandemic-driven insecurity,” she writes. “Great personal wealth or a functioning government.” Now we are finding out what happens when we don't have either one.




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