Courtesy of the TODAY Show
Published 05/05/2020 | Reading Time 4 min 3 sec
By Nehemiah D. Frank, founder and executive editor
Are you sending your kids back to school in the fall, or are you one of the millions of parents debating whether to homeschool amid the COVID-19 global disruption?
The coronavirus is notorious for preying on the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Scientists are finding that it affects school-aged children less than adults. However, children as young as 5-years-old have fallen victim to the highly contagious and deadly virus.
Scientists have reason to believe adolescents may be super-spreaders of the novel pandemic. In fact, most youth who catch COVID-19 are asymptomatic. They show little or no signs of infection.
Schools wouldn’t know if students are spreading the virus to their peers, teachers and staff. Therefore, districts have no way of knowing if their infected students would carry the virus home.
For example, spring breakers who contracted the virus on Florida beaches in March were traced by mobile phone companies carrying the virus home to their communities.
Younger children, however, are less likely to have phones.
This means students attending school who become infected are like silent grenades. The blast will go off, and no one would be able to stop the pain or guilt a student may feel knowing they may have possibly spread the virus to a family member who later falls ill or dies.
Heavy is the burden that falls on the kid who thinks he or she is responsible for a parent or grandparent’s death.
And in true Trumpian style, which elected official or school administrator pushing for a premature reopen of ‘business as usual’ will take on the liability?
Not one of them.
We have to admit that American schools have done a piss-poor job of providing access to mental health experts for students. We barely addressed the mental health crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic. So I don’t see how we’d be able to block the inevitable mental health bleed that comes with widespread trauma after the COVID has taken its toll on our society.
Why would we pack on trauma on top of trauma?
America isn’t testing enough? And in many states, we’ve been discouraged from receiving testing if we don’t show symptoms — even if we’ve been in close proxy to a known carrier. Consequently, we don’t have an accurate count of how widespread this new virus is.
With today’s overcrowded classrooms in most school districts, I don’t see how students and staff can practice social distancing because America already has a problem with overwhelming teachers with too many students. Even if 15 students were in a classroom, one cough could infect half if not the entire class of students, including their teacher.
But COVID-19 isn’t the only thing worrying parents.
Zoe Fraizer-Todd in Oklahoma says she discovered the benefits of homeschooling her stepdaughter during the COVID-19 disruption. “She’s getting more one on one learning time, able to be in her own home and not being overstimulated by large classes, other kids and all of that. We were having behavior issues at school before all of this happened.”
Fraizer-Todd, also, added that “although we’re definitely seeing the benefits of it, it has posed difficulties for both Brentom [Todd] and I’s job performance as most of the activities and lessons provided by the schools require an adult to assist the kids. Balancing work and teleworking is not practical, but it’s made us start thinking about the future as far as homeschooling options if we were able to generate income outside of a typical 9-5 work schedule.”
Fraizer-Todd isn’t alone. Many parents are finding that their kids learn better at home with fewer distractions. Angela Pettie, from Phoenix, told the 74 Million that she sees why her son was having behavior issues at school and is doing better at home. “He wasn’t being challenged enough,” she said.
Now, I’m not proposing that parents switch their kids to homeschooling. It’s not for every kid and family. But if a parent finds their child performing academically better at home and they can juggle work and homeschooling, I’d say go for it.
Colleen Cook, a delegate from the National Parents Union, said that she’s planning to keep her daughter home this fall: “Yes, I am already planning on Cat being home. I’m OK with it, I like her home. But I think we need to really begin to consider how we reach the most vulnerable communities,” hinting at the inequality the pandemic exposes. People of color have been disproportionately affected by the fallout created by the virus.
Cherie Crosby said she’s concerned about sending her kids back in the fall. “As a single mother of three, I have no choice. And I’m concerned because I can’t afford for them to be sick and possibly get me sick,” Crosby said.
America can’t be the country bragging about being first-world and the most powerful nation on the planet when we have coronavirus disparities in the double digits in some American cities.
Had we practiced equality and equity, like Dr. King purposed, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today. But naw. Racism, classism, individualism and all f–king isms –period are what have caused the virus to rage and wreak havoc on America’s most vulnerable communities.
It is my opinion that majority-homogeneous nations have been more successful in containing the virus because they are more likely to have less bickering and more unity.
Racial hatred has always had its chokehold on America, even during a crisis.
Since President Donald Trump began referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus”, Matt Habuda says he’s worried about his kids being the target of racial violence. His boys are Chinese American.
“The amount of hatred that has been hurled in my direction due to my children’s origin of birth would be compounded in schools with a sea of ignorance being accepted and taught could be dangerous for them in additional ways,” Habuda said.
COVID-19 has revealed the systemic issues that have been present all along. Hopefully, when it’s safe to send the kiddos back to school, educators will be frank and intentional about fixing issues of equity and start conversations on the importance of diversity.
Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder, executive editor, and director of The Black Wall Street Times, digital news media company that believes access is the new civil right. He’s also a freelance writer, appearing in TIME Magazine, Tulsa People, and Tulsa World. Frank graduated with a general studies degree from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and a political science degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and was a member and chapter president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. Today, he is a blogger for Education Post, based in Chicago, IL, and a board member for the Tulsa World, Tulsa Press Club, and Tulsa’s Table. He is also a public school educator at a local community-led charter school and is a member of Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Education Task Force for Equity and Inclusion. In 2017, Frank became a Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, a 2018 Black Educators Fellow and gave a TED Talk at the University of Tulsa.