LETTER: Keep schools open

Rep.elect Pat Proctor

To the editor:

I commend the Leavenworth Board of Education on its decision Wednesday to continue in-person learning. With emotions high on both sides of the argument, I know it was a difficult decision. But our board members remained cool-headed in this crisis and made the right decision.

People are scared. And when people are scared, there is a great temptation for leaders to take actions that give the appearance of doing something without actually doing anything to mitigate the danger. I salute our Board of Education for resisting this temptation.

The science is clear on this. As of Wednesday, not a single person in the state of Kansas under 17 years old – not one – had died of COVID-19. And there is mounting scientific evidence that schools, safely opened and practicing common sense measures, are not a vector for community spread of the coronavirus.

On the other hand, the evidence is equally clear that taking our kids out of school can have serious, long-term negative effects. The fact is kids do not learn as well remotely. This is especially true in our families with only one working parent unable to be home to supervise their children’s learning.

Closing schools disproportionately disadvantages our most vulnerable kids. And communities that have closed their schools are seeing huge spikes in childhood depression, anxiety and even suicide across the economic spectrum.

Keeping our schools open doesn’t mean we don’t still face challenges. COVID-19 concerns and quarantines are creating troubling personnel shortages in our schools that we need to come together as a community to address. If you have at least 60 hours of college and any of your weekdays free, I encourage you to go to the Kansas Department of Education website and apply for an emergency substitute license. I did it tonight. It takes five minutes. Once your license arrives, step up, add your name to our school district’s substitute list and help our teachers keep our schools open.