Today was supposed to be the day that Governor Roy Cooper announced his plans for the upcoming school year. He decided to wait.
I have two boys, 6 and 8. They are public school students. Cooper’s decision will have a direct impact on my family and the hundreds of thousands of others like “us” in this state.
We’re running out of time. School systems, teachers, employees, parents and students needs to know what’s going to happen to their lives in six weeks.
Why don’t they? I’ll tell you why, but you have to indulge my juvenile side a minute.
One of the benefits of having two young sons is you get to re-live your own boyhood in certain ways. One of these ways is you get to play the 21st century versions of the video games you grew up with. Nintendo is still Nintendo, it’s just a lot more fun. Speaking of fun, I take a great deal of pride in beating my boys in certain games. Again, Nintendo is still Nintendo and I put in the work at their age. It still pays off.
Things were going pretty well in North Carolina until June. Our covid curve was long and slow. I compared it to a “two-mile hill” in a post on this site. Governor Cooper was going to be a hero. The “Cuomo of the South” had gotten it right from the beginning and proved his critics wrong. Re-election seemed inevitable.
It was hard not to call North Carolina a success story, and it was smooth sailing as we negotiated the pitfalls of other states with ease.
In “Zelda” in 2020, you use a special power called “stasis” to freeze large metal objects that look like coronaviruses and will kill you if you touch them. In North Carolina in 2020, you use an controversial political tool called a “lockdown” to freeze human beings so they don’t get actual coronaviruses. The concept is the same.
It all seemed to work pretty well for us and after a few months of pain, it was time end the lockdown.
At the end of May, we hit the re-start button, putting an end to this nasty ordeal and getting back to our normal way of life:
It wasn’t over.
You need a cure to avoid the spikes. We don’t have one at the moment.
North Carolina’s covid problem roughly doubled in the month of June. The spikes got larger.
Rumors of the school year being postponed and rumblings of “remote learning” broke the hearts and the collective will of Tar Heel mothers.
They need a break. Their sons and daughters need a childhood.
So now what??? How do we get through this? Cooper’s not telling us, so you get the Cross Creek Divide answer:
I’ve got two solutions, one philosophical, one practical.
The first: actually listen to the experts. That’s what Cooper says he does.
In this case, listen to physicians who have spent their careers treating diseases that harm children.
The nation’s pediatricians have come out with a strong statement in favor of bringing children back to the classroom this fall wherever and whenever they can do so safely. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidance “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
The guidance says “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being.”
The AAP cites “mounting evidence” that transmission of the coronavirus by young children is uncommon, partly because they are less likely to contract it in the first place.
On the other hand, the AAP argues that based on the nation’s experience this spring, remote learning is likely to result in severe learning loss and increased social isolation. Social isolation, in turn, can breed serious social, emotional and health issues: “child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.” Furthermore, these impacts will be visited more severely on Black and brown children, as well as low-income children and those with learning disabilities.
Now for the practical: Ramp up the teaching fellows program immediately. Forgive all student loans for graduates of UNC, NC State (yes, even them), or any other state university that agree to teach in a public school for four years starting NOW. Quadruple the funding, NOW.
The reason is simple: we need young teachers, NOW. Why? Young people are less susceptible to the dangers of Covid-19, NOW.
Adapt to the danger.
Most of all, keep moving forward.
It’s time to be brave.
Cause they are.