Our schools are critical parts of our communities. For many working-class parents, they represent the primary form of childcare while they work two jobs, and for other students our schools can represent an escape from issues of food insecurity and family issues. This represents the multiple roles that our schools play in fostering our communities, and in times of crisis that need becomes even more apparent. However, at the current moment, the state of the county will not allow for a safe reopening that considers the health and safety of our community, students, and teachers. As a School Board member, I would only approve a plan which allows our schoolhouses to open when we reach Phase 2 as a county. Furthermore, I support the Superintendent and School Board’s outlining of 8 criteria which would allow our schools to open. When reopening our schools, we must consider the health and safety of all of those involved, ensuring that we minimize any risk.
On that front, we must fund programs and resources which will allow a safe experience for our students, both in terms of physical and mental health. While going about reopening, we must involve all affected voices, especially through the use of teacher surveys to understand their perspective. We must also fully fund and provide PPE for every staff member and student within our system, in addition to contact tracing and sanitation throughout schoolhouses. But throughout this process we cannot fail to acknowledge the mental health of our students. We should follow a Social Emotional Learning Roadmap for Reopening, which will comprehensively address the mental health needs of our students, and work in collaboration with knowledgeable and reputable organizations to preserve the mental health of students. Our district is responsible for our students’ and staff’s health, both physical and mental, and we must work to achieve comprehensive coverage for PPE, contact tracing, SEL, and sanitation.