It is with increasing dismay that I read the statements reported in local newspapers of the ISD 2142 Superintendent and Board members regarding COVID-19. It appears that their goal is to placate the parents who complain about wearing masks and taking precautions rather than ensuring that the County Schools are the safest possible environments for the children and staff in attendance.
I am not sure how the Superintendent and Board members came to know more about communicable diseases than the epidemiologic and medical experts in the CDC, MN Dept. of Health, the St. Louis County Health Dept. and the doctors in the local clinics and hospitals. Throughout the last school year it appeared to me that working the numbers to keep schools open was celebrated rather than questioned.
Does the School District cut corners in all their safety practices, or just where COVID-19 is concerned? Do they cheat on school bus safety, food safety, air quality, athletic safety or building maintenance? I certainly hope not.
The last sixteen months of COVID-19 experience show that it spreads quickly and is more deadly than “just the flu”. Greater than 616,000 Americans have been reported to have died due to COVID-19. Countless others suffer from long term health effects. While it was thought that young adults and children were less susceptible to the original COVID-19 strain, the present upswing is now attacking them and making them sicker than before. School children are now more vulnerable than ever.
It has been proven by the recent drop in new cases that social distancing, wearing masks and getting vaccinated are effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. The newly developing surge in unvaccinated, and probably unmasked people is further proof that vaccinations are effective and safe and unvaccinated people are vulnerable. Until almost everyone is vaccinated the school children are not safe.
Presently, 54% of St. Louis County residents are fully vaccinated. This means every other person you see is not vaccinated and could be spreading COVID-19. COVID-19 is regaining ground in our communities once again.
Children under the age of 12 are still not eligible to be vaccinated. This means every student from Pre-K through 6th grade is vulnerable to being infected by every other high schooler and adult they come into contact with. Aren’t these children worthy of the utmost protection?
It should be the goal of the entire educational system to conquer ignorance and model exemplary civic and personal behavior. Cheating on the rules should not be tolerated at any level. Allowing any individuals to disobey any school board policy should not be tolerated. Forcing parents to look for safer schools in other districts should not be tolerated. Let the unsafe parents look elsewhere.
I would ask that ISD 2142 set the COVID-19 safety bar higher than that recommended by the health agencies rather than lower. This should be the same for all the goals of the school district. This is how you attract students instead of losing them. This is how students become the best citizens they can.
Former ISD 2142 Director