Physicians for Reopening Schools
This letter was received by the School Board from a Pediatrician and Emergency Physician. It is important for the public to know that my decisions regarding reopening schools are based on input from experts on the ground including parents, teachers, staff and physicians. These local physicians also garnered a petition of 8,000 people who signed to reopen our schools full time. Many of those who signed the petition were also physicians.
I'm a pediatrician married to an emergency medicine physician (who has a masters in public health)....We've seen the fallout of school closures in children, and after speaking to many of our colleagues in health care, we decided to write a petition from the perspective of healthcare workers who feel that the health and well being of CHILDREN is not being considered enough in the closures of school. While there is no doubt that COVID is deadly for certain populations, we are dismayed that children are suffering needlessly.
The petition is signed by thousands of pediatricians, physicians from all fields, social workers, nurses, counselors, speech therapists, teachers, and psychologists and psychiatrists, among others. Because so many parents wanted to sign it, we opened the petition to them and it now has nearly 8,000 signatures (growing by the day). (Most professionals did not add their credentials but I vouch for several hundred of them!) Please read it at https://www.change.org/openVAschools or see the attached signatures and comments PDFs with the petition copied below.
We realize at this point that schools plan to open somehow, but we implore you to open FULL TIME with as much normal activity as possible, while making efforts to protect teachers. Moving to Phase 3 by August is needed, and we MUST not take the joy out of school-- recess, sports, and activities should be preserved as much as possible as they are directly responsible for kids' mental and emotional development and well-being.
An "opt in to full time attendance" and "opt out for full remote learning" option makes the most scientific and practical sense for the following reasons:
1/ Hybrid models require parents to obtain childcare on 'off days.'
a/This WIDENS the circles of exposure to daycares/nannies/adult caregivers which is the opposite of what we want to do.
b/This is costly. Poor families struggle to afford childcare. Many kids will be home alone. Increasing the burden of finding care widens already existing inequities; some will have to quit jobs to stay home with children.
c/There is likely not enough childcare to allow for this, even if affordable. Childcare is already hard to find, so even those who can afford it will struggle. Grandparents or older people who have cared for children in the past are often unable to care for extended families' children anymore. (This is our situation, and reflects others as well: grandparents cannot care for kids of two working parents due to risk factors, and nannies are scarce.) We are all seeing many situations in which young children are receiving no supervision at all.
d/ Remote learning is NOT working for the vast majority of students, especially those with special needs AND is unfairly biased toward those who already have more resources to support ‘homeschooling’, widening already existing gaps.
2. Opt-out allows people who either DESIRE to homeschool or who MUST homeschool due to risk, to do so. Teachers who want to support remote learning due to their own health concerns can support the likely increase in families who choose to homeschool.
3. If busing is the issue, give the community the chance to re-envision this. Other states don’t use buses (eg California). Prioritize buses to be used by kids already identified (free-reduced lunch) and allow the community to rise to the challenge. Parents are used to networking and many would have to drive their kids to daycare if school wasn’t open.
Please recruit physicians like us who are seeing FIRSTHAND what kids are experiencing-- as well as school counselors and psychologists, who are busier than ever-- to participate in existing 'task forces' and support schools to open in a sensible way. We see superintendents and college presidents on your task forces but we need more people who are seeing what is happening to kids over the last few months. From anxiety to depression, to screen addiction, regression of speech apraxia or social skills, we are seeing kids suffer immeasurably, for no benefit to them or society as a whole.
Physicians on the ground want to participate in the decision-making processes. The CDC recommendations are somewhat nebulous and will be difficult to implement, and some should not be implemented at all in some places. We are a diverse Commonwealth. We want to help schools reopen and support the staff and teachers.
6/24/2020 08:45:45 am
Thank you for a good common sense approach to this. Students need to be well rounded and not forced to have these modified plans for school. We are going to phase 3 on July 1. Open schools the right way and not modified or hybrid in the fall!
6/24/2020 10:33:20 am
Please reopen schools 5 days aweek.
6/24/2020 06:30:20 pm
While I wish my child could go back to a normal routine, suggesting that they should is irresponsible. I know its effecting my child not being in her normal environment around her teachers and peers. We all want it to be normal, but the truth is, we’re not living in a normal time. A lot of this seems really opinion based and no reports or studies have been linked or sourced. Youre saying “thousands” of professionals in the medical field support this, ok, who? Im also finding the points made here to be very contradictory. I agree, childcare being something thats affordable and accessible for most middle and lower income working parents is almost impossible. Thats a strong point to make. But you cant then suggest that needing childcare “Widens their circle of exposure” and in the same breath say that “studies show that children are rarely dying and spreading the virus.” You contradict yourself. Then you’re saying, “whatever, its cool to roll the dice if its rare.” Can you even begin to understand how some students have to come home to family members who are high risk? Your suggestion should be that maybe the state And the city work within that $813 million dollar budget on top of state and federal relief to maybe provide income or support for childcare of these families. Then to also suggest that “studies dont prove people are dying less due to kids being out of school.” This “study” seems flawed because no crap, theres nothing to show what it would be like if they were in school. Theres no variable here.... Come on. You're the head of education. EDUCATION!!!!!! You're supposed to be part of the group making decisions that effect our childrens educations, and sub sequentially their families lives. Please don’t make an experiment out this based on biased opinions and pressure from those giving you financial backing. Especially when you cant even responsibly source scientific data over opinion.
6/24/2020 07:38:18 pm
I think you may be confused. Half of the things that you quoted were not even in this letter. This was a letter received by a pediatrician and they cite thousands of other medical professionals who signed the petition. There is no contradiction in this letter. Also, if you or any other parents are not comfortable with sending your child back to school then keep them home. They even say in this letter that should be an option.
6/25/2020 08:21:45 am
Im quoting this letter AND the link attached to the change.org petition within the letter. The “physicians” who wrote this letter are not even signed or named. Show me the citing. Saying there are legit sources vs showing those legit sources are two different things. Am i missing something? Miss me with the rhetoric. Any response to the points i made about endangering high risk family members? The keep your kid at home option speaks to no guarantee what the city would do to provide those families who choose to do so. It says teachers who feel the same can voluntarily offer services. Youre asking already underpaid Teachers( would they even be guaranteeD pay if they decided to stay home?) To volunteer charity school work. It almost seems certain teachers, no
6/25/2020 06:52:09 am
6/25/2020 08:37:22 am
I know and I understand that. But you’re publishing on your home page and facebook. You own both of those and are rallying behind a petition. One that only needs 15,000 signatures that effects 67k+ students. You can take ownership in your campaign, don’t dodge the opposing questions. There are points in this that are very valid. Ie: families who have to work and need the childcare. But your solution still isn't safe.
6/25/2020 10:43:35 am
You are welcome to keep your children at home, and if you feel that they will be compromised, then of course it is your resonsibility. I, on the other hand, want to make my own decision for my child and family. You do not want others making your decision for you, and you should give the same respect to the rest of us, we will deem the best for our OWN CHILDREN.
6/25/2020 11:24:54 am
But you arent making your own decision with this are you? Thats why its being petitioned, so this decision can be made for the rest of us. You nor I live in a bubble, everybody’s circumstance is different. Some are more priviliged than not. Suggesting I keep my child out of school in my working class home comes from a place of privelage. You should understand that. That is not really the capibility a lot of folks in VB have, as even outlined in this letter and petition. I think youre taking out of context my suggestion. I WANT my child to be able to go back in the fall, but not all of information that this letter and the petition are using to push this issue are clear and unbiased. We do have elected officials on the school board who are there to make decisions in the best interest for our students and families, so it was our decision to trust them. Having a petition spread around with ideas on how they can handle it is not giving us a plan on how they will handle it. Most proposals have a written out plan including procedures.... this just says we’ll go back to normal.... we’ll maybe figure it out. Between wanting a smarter and clearer plan that effects 67,000+ students and not spreading biased nonfactual information for pandering is all im asking for. Be smart, not emotional
6/25/2020 05:03:36 pm
The petition specifically states that people should have a choice (Opt-in or opt-out).
6/25/2020 07:28:26 pm
6/25/2020 06:02:14 pm
6/26/2020 04:26:22 pm
Comments are closed.