Children need to be back in school. They need to be at school. They’re hurting and they’re falling behind.
Scores of dedicated, loving parents have been doing their level best to remain calm, to help their children learn in the home setting, to adapt and adjust to new routines and rituals during this difficult time. All of that is hugely helpful. They should continue their strong, positive steps as much as possible—and seek help from mental health or other professionals if and when they need it.
But sometimes human frustration just boils over.
A father in Virginia who let his local school board hear his comments firsthand has gone viral. That’s likely because he vividly expressed the sentiments of so many other stressed-out parents across the country who have been juggling child care and work responsibilities at home for the better part of a year—and, in the process, have watched their children struggle and suffer during the seemingly endless coronavirus-driven school closures.
“You should all be fired from your day jobs,” the masked dad began as he addressed the Loudoun County School Board in Virginia, as a video shows. “If your employers knew that you were more inefficient than the DMV, you would be replaced in a heartbeat.”
The dad continued, “I literally just finished a conference call because I’m having to multitask to be here to address you guys. You’re a bunch of cowards hiding behind our children as an excuse for keeping schools closed. You think you’re some sort of martyrs because of the decisions you’re making when the statistics do not lie that the vast majority of the population is not at risk from this virus.”
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Then he really let them have it.
“The garbage workers who pick up my freaking trash risk their lives every day, more than anyone in this school system! Figure it out! Or get off the podium,” the father yelled. “Because you know what? There are people like me and a line of other people out there who will gladly take your seat and figure it out! It’s not a high bar. Raise the freaking bar!”
Members of the school board appeared to sit in stunned silence for a few seconds after the father left the podium. Then, as he exited the meeting room, he could be heard shouting, “I’ll be back next time. Open the freaking schools!”
See this video of his remarks as posted here.
And see this other parent’s comments as well at the same meeting.
The Loudoun County School Board is apparently scheduled to vote next Tuesday, February 2, on a plan to bring the district’s youngest students back into school buildings by February 16. Assuming that plan is approved, “middle and high schoolers whose parents have already opted into the [hybrid] model would return to classrooms for two days per week by March 3,” as WTOP News reported.
Similar scheduling scenarios have been playing out in many school districts across the country. Some schools have remained shuttered because of COVID-19, while others—depending on location and virus cases—have operated only with a hybrid model. That hybrid model can be hugely chaotic for families.
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Notably, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said earlier this week that children should return to their classrooms as soon as possible, noting that the “preponderance of available evidence” says that in-person instruction can safely occur as long as mask-wearing and social distancing measures are maintained.
But many teachers are resisting calls to return to their classrooms. They don’t feel safe, they insist. They want more vaccinations first.
In Loudoun County, over 6,000 teachers have already received their first dose of vaccine, as WTOP News reported. But “given the nationwide shortage of vaccines, some teachers told the board they wouldn’t feel safe returning to in-person learning until staff are fully immunized with all the recommended doses,” the outlet noted.
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In Chicago, some teachers have used interpretative dance moves to express their desire to remain at home and “stay safe”—eliciting anger, resentment, and confusion from many across the country.
On Thursday morning, The Wall Street Journal reported that a teachers strike could “upend” the Chicago schools’ reopening plans: “Educators in the nation’s third-largest district have been negotiating with the city over how to reopen the schools safely amid COVID-19.”
See the tweets below about the Chicago teachers and their “anti-return” dance moves.
Meanwhile, parents should keep doing what parents do: Love your children. Help them learn as best you can—and as best they can. Maintain strong dialogue with your children’s teachers. Reach out for answers to your local professionals.
Take a deep breath.
And know that God is on your side.
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This article was written by Maureen Mackey. She is a writer, editor, and digital content strategist.