Petition: It's time to open schools before children are further harmed - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 6, 2020
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Petition: It’s time to open schools before children are further harmed

By JODI TAYLOR

Concerned parents are asking that Anchorage School District begin in-class school immediately.  Not only are many schools across the U.S. and the world attending school in person, many of the districts throughout Alaska are now attending in person. 

Sign the petition at this link.

A recent Yale study tracking young children in all 50 states found there to be no difference of infection rate between children who stayed at home and children who went to daily childcare. ASD’s remote learning negatively impacts children (and their families).  For the following reasons, children in Anchorage are best served by attending school in person:

1.      Equal Education Opportunity.   

Low-income, special needs, minority, and foster children are adversely impacted by remote learning.  This is born out in data; nationwide, about 30 percent of Native families and about 20 percent of Black and Latino families do not have access to the internet or have it only through a smartphones, compared with 7 percent of White families and 4 percent of Asian families.  Where remote learning is often plagued with challenges in low-income families, higher income families have additional options for furthering their children’s education. 

Some families have opted to send their children to private schools, utilize private tutors in conjunction with Anchorage School District’s home schooling, hired private teachers, and even temporarily relocated using teleworking to enable grandparents or other family members to oversee their children’s education.  

Not all families can do that. The education gap that already exists in Anchorage is further exacerbated; contrast students with remote schooling for a year (with many students not attending) to those who have been privately tutored. The obvious disparity dictates immediate action.

2.      Emotional, Social and Physical Impacts.

Dr. Danielle Dooley, medical director of Children’s National Hospital and a pediatrician said, “I am really seeing the negative impacts of these school closures on children,” including: mental health problems, hunger, obesity due to inactivity, missing routine medical care and the risk of child abuse — on top of the loss of education.

This is also being seen on a local level.  A local nurse practitioner has seen children who have gained 40 pounds since COVID-19, children coming to the office with imagined worries just to see someone and have an emotional connection, children with severe mental health issues, and this nurse is very concerned about unreported abuse with children not in school. 

This is not just a problem for younger children but is especially prevalent among older students.

3.      Reasonable, Precautionary Measures.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly recommended opening schools, and many districts have listened and have been able to fulfill their core mission of teaching students in a safe manner. Some families may deem it best for their family to remain in a remote learning model – perfect, as it’s already available.  ASD’s own survey has shown most families desire, desperately, to have their children back in full-time.  

It’s time for the ASD Board of Education, Assembly, and our Mayor to address that demand.   Let’s get our students back in school and learning.

Jodi Taylor is a mother of five ASD students, an ASD graduate, and believer that education is a great equalizer.

Donations Welcome

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Latest comments

  • hi there – when I try to open the link to sign, I’m brought to your page but there isn’t a link to a petition. When I search on ASD I find one similar petition started by Carol Zerbe but no others specific to the reopening topic.

    • Casey, I think I have that link fixed. Thanks – sd

      • Suzanne I just tried and it did the same thing!

  • Jody is right on with her article. There are months worth of data in several countries who either never closed or reopened after a short closure. Data showed no increase in coronavirus spread or deaths in those locations. Neither ASD nor the muni are looking at the data. The teachers unions are using this as a point of leverage to flex their muscles. Neither ASD nor the teachers’ union care about the education of the most vulnerable children: Those children who need high quality face-to-face education to increase their opportunities. ASD and the teachers’ union only care about control, fear mongering, and power.

    • New research just came out again today. One from Yale University. Was on Tucker Carlson tonight. Says Covid does not spread in schools to kids or teachers!

  • Well! Kids are not in school! Folks still working at home!
    Folks still wearing masks! Outside walking, nobody around! And in their cars! By themselves!
    We been in masks for months! Seriously?!

    And China bug rates are up and up!

    This isn’t working!! Use your brain!???

  • I talked to a teacher the other day who was hoping that schools would be closed before the Holidays so she could visit her out of state parents during that usually hectic time of year. That about sums it up!

  • They always bring up “the risk of child abuse” to make their case. Like our kids are safer away from their parents? Our kids are definitely safer at home than at any school.

    • Joseph that just isn’t so in many homes. I know, I am a retired principal.

      • At home my dad gave me a good whipping with a switch, twice that I remember. At school I got beat up by the bullies at least once per week. Whenever they were caught beating me up I was the one punished. I was Native and the bullies were white.
        One teacher, a woman, was going to have all the boys line up with their belts and make me run the gauntlet. One of my cousins ran home and told her mom, who called the principal.
        What is it about our “educators” who are so smugly claiming to be better at taking care of our kids than their parents? Must be the “elitist” mindset. They’re “educated” and parents are ignorant?
        There’s a school scene in the movie “Overboard” that shows well that elitist attitude.

      • On the net there’s a story of an 8-year-old boy who called 911 and reported his dad for running a red light. The police pulled him over and it turns out that it was just a right turn on red. It also turns out that one of the boy’s teachers had told the boy that it was his duty to report all crimes, even if it was done by his parents.
        Question is, did dad go through the process of hashing the issue out with the school, or did his boy never ride with him again?

  • My concern is not just immediate but future ramifications. We’re already sorely behind in the education of the children in Alaska. There will be no one to blame but the educational system. It didn’t start with covid-19 , but it certainly has been made uglier. Just wait, the worst is yet to come.

  • Are school districts that are shut down taking precautions against teachers that may abuse their remote learning responsibilities? I have heard of several teachers who plan to take advantage of the shutdown to visit out of state parents/family over the Holidays. What are the protocols when they return? Does anyone know where they go? Hotspots? Do they quarantine with pay when they get back?
    Sounds like another example of Covid restrictions for “Thee, not me.”

  • The pandemic will end, by vaccine and/or treatment, almost certainly after the current school year. Kids will catch up, research conducted during non-pandemic instructional times are invalid for our current situation. Regarding the spread of Covid, there’s ample well conducted research showing kids do quite a nice job, unintentionally, of spreading the virus. Even young children. What we can’t regain are teachers’ and others’ lives lost or health significantly damaged due to rushing back to in person classrooms when science dictates that to do so isn’t in anyone’s best interests. Regarding Pediatricians’ views, they generally recommend in person schooling as long as significant adaptations are made in every building. Anchorage is no where near that safety level. So be patient, do the best with a difficult situation, but don’t sacrifice our staff and elders, they can’t be replaced.

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