Pandemic puts focus on parents

As the scheduled beginning of the 2020-21 school year draws nearer, the prospect of those ubiquitous yellow buses returning to the roads to pick up and transport our children to class leads to reasonable questions regarding how or even whether it can safely be done amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Districts are considering options such as reducing the number of kids on a bus, assigning specific seats, making kids and drivers wear masks while on the bus, opening windows and vents when possible to circulate the air more efficiently and disinfecting buses after each run.

But there is one aspect for which the district cannot account. It is an aspect only parents and guardians can control.

It’s called personal responsibility.

The truth is school districts can have all the safety protocols in the world in place and kids could still be exposed to an ill classmate if that child’s parents fail to recognize when it’s unsafe for him or her to attend.

For this reopening to work, parents must be vigilant and strictly adhere to the recommendations given by districts and keep their children home from school if they are exhibiting any symptoms of illness whatsoever. Even if in our pre-pandemic world, they’d have sent their kid with the sniffles or a mildly scratchy throat onto the bus in the morning without giving it a second thought.

This is no time for a “kids are too soft nowadays” type of attitude, nor to put the personal convenience of what is essentially free child care over the safety of others. This virus has proven it will spread quickly given the chance, and over the years, few places have shown to be petri dishes of illness quite like schools because under normal circumstances, classrooms generally host medium-to-large groups of people in a fairly enclosed space for extended periods of time.

That type of environment is basically the equivalent of the honeymoon suite for viruses. It would almost assuredly lead to rapid virus reproduction. That’s why schools are doing things differently this year.

Parents will also need to stress to their kids the importance of following the new rules that have been enacted because of the pandemic. That means touching fewer things and, yes, that also means wearing a mask — and wearing it correctly, meaning covering the nose and mouth entirely.

If you’re among those people who believe mask wearing is pointless, actively harmful or nothing more than a political statement, you certainly have a right to feel that way.

What you don’t have is a right to send your maskless child to potentially infect everyone else at the school, who could then take the virus home to their families — some of whom may have health conditions that put them at higher risk for developing a severe or even lethal case of COVID-19 if they contract the virus — and infect them as well.

In many ways, school will be the same — the more on board with the program parents are, the better things will be for not only your child, but also those tasked with teaching him or her.

The big difference is that the consequences of doing the opposite could be much greater.

We’ve all heard throughout this ordeal that we’re all in this together.

If our children are to have some feeling of normality in their lives at school, those among us who are parents of students had better be.


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