I may not be able to respond to all of the emails and calls that I’m receiving, so I thought I would share my response here regarding the decision to return all students to virtual learning.
It is the prerogative of the Superintendent to make this decision. The Board voted on a reopening plan that included metrics. I did not agree with that plan nor the metrics to be used but it did pass on an 8-3 vote by your elected representatives.
My opinion based upon research, including talking with physicians and mental health providers, is that keeping students out of school has more negative impacts than returning them for in-person learning. According to the CDC, compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health–related emergency department visits during the pandemic for children aged 5–11 and 12–17 years increased approximately 24% and 31%, respectively.
I fear for the mental health well-being of all students. I am also concerned that students with special needs and students whose parents aren’t able to be home with their children will fall farther behind. Additionally, our students who have hands-on learning courses such as the Career and Technical Center, Advanced Technology Center, SECEP, Environmental Studies, courses with labs, etc are being further left behind.
I would like to note that even though we did enter the “Red” metric today for total cases, the VDH did report that their elevated case case count reported today, November 16 is due to a catch-up from the VDH data system being down for upgrades. While I believe any death is a tragedy, we did flatten the curve and hospitalizations and deaths remain low. The graphs shows hospitalizations and deaths for the Eastern Region.
I continue to believe that the cure should not be worse than the disease.