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Opening Our Schools - Decisions Driven by Fear or Facts?

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

This past year, our family decided to host a foreign exchange student. She is the same age as our daughter and having her this year has been one of the biggest blessings we have ever experienced. We have grown to love her as if she were our very own. She even calls us mom and dad. She is from Italy.

In February, when COVID-19 in Northern Italy began to spike, we became concerned about the health of the country to which she would return. In late March, with virtually no warning, the foreign exchange group ordered us to send her home. Seriously? Was this really happening? This order came as most of our nation (along with Kansas) had just been closed, and Italy remained riddled with COVID cases. After lengthy discussions with her mother - together we decided what was best for our children - to keep her here with our family as the drama with this virus unfolded. After all, we are in Kansas - a place where we are somewhat isolated.

While I'm so thankful the virus numbers have not climbed like numerous other populated states, I am also disappointed she missed so many high school traditions, we as Americans take for granted. I'm disappointed that ALL students throughout Kansas and the nation missed these most treasured traditions.

The high cases expected in western Kansas never materialized. Even today, some Kansas counties have no reported cases but were still closed which says to me and many others that the one size fits all approach did not work and caused such regret among all sorts of family and friends. For our children here in Topeka and throughout Kansas, to miss the wonder of Spring school dances, sports, musicals, Senior Trips, and graduation experiences such as commencement, is a travesty.

Today we heard from our governor about her proposed plan for children returning to school this fall. And, while numbers nationwide would indicate that our children are safe from contracting this virus, this subject has been and still is incredibly dividing.

Last March it seemed that teachers everywhere were ALL so worried about children who would likely starve without the meals provided by the schools. We were worried about abuse increasing and that school was one of the safest places for these most vulnerable children. So yes, I am worried as are many of our district 55 residents, that we are having a knee jerk reaction with assumptions based on incorrect data - without discussions with all involved. Will these kids fall through the cracks and will there be no one to know what has happened because there will be no teacher to see them in person, let alone answer those questions that only a child will ask? Where are those who were so worried about our children?

A student returning to school is being treated as nothing more than a pawn in a larger game. This is a very emotional topic for everyone. Decisions should not be made on fear and emotion. Decisions should be made with facts in hand and ONLY the facts.

I think we can and should do better. What are your thoughts?

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