To the editor,
I am writing to express my thanks to Dr. Gibbs and The Athens City School District Board in their decision to delay in person learning by nine weeks. This decision will undoubtedly help to protect our kids, teachers/staff, and community members.
I am, however, disappointed at some of the things I heard in the last meeting. Making a commitment to Dr. Gibbs’ first recommendation of waiting a semester would have been the safest choice. It truly seemed as though there was a lack of understanding regarding the severity of this pandemic and Public Health Science by some of those who spoke.
One Board member expressed a desire to let families make the decision for themselves. The problem with this is that the decision of one family ultimately effects the health of the rest of the community because of how contagious this virus is. Many can carry it to others without the presence of any symptoms. This is why it is so dangerous.
Additionally, there was far too little mention of the inherent risk returning means to Teachers, Staff, and their families. Yes, Teachers and Staff work for the public, but they are not first responders, nor did they ever commit to putting their lives, or the lives of their families on the line. Asking them to is shameful.
Speaking of Staff, at the public meeting held just one week before, our School Nurses, also known as trained medical professionals, calmly and clearly explained the many logistical reasons why returning to buildings is not safe. From the fact that there are only two of them, to the actual spaces, to timing, to limited resources it was abundantly clear that it would be gravely problematic, if not impossible, to safely return to buildings.
I understand why parents want their kids to go back. I want my kids to go back. But I am not willing to risk the health, and lives, of my community for it. Extracurriculars are not a good enough reason. Structure is not a good enough reason. Social/emotional health is not a good enough reason. There are many ways to meet all of those needs without returning to buildings. Social Workers, Counselors, Case Managers, Nurses, Teachers, and many others are already doing it. Let’s use the resources we have to make choices that protect each other, not put more at risk.
Sarah Webb, Mother, LISW-S