As the fall approaches rapidly, the debate about whether or not to reopen schools rages. Many parents want their kids out of their hair and back in the classroom. But teachers and others everywhere warn that kids will spread COVID-19 rapidly between each other, school staff, and their families, and that can only result in disaster.
Recently, in Houston, TX, a bunch of moms demonstrated in support of opening schools. The Red Apple Protest was led by parents who are committed to getting children into the classroom "safely," even though many others recognize that that may be impossible right now. So two people dressed as the Grim Reaper joined their protest to make a powerful counter-statement about the risk we're putting kids in if we send them back to the classroom.
Twitter user @AstroSpell713 posted the pictures to Twitter, where they went completely viral, garnering over 81,000 retweets and 311,000 likes. The statement of these grim reapers was cheeky but clear.
If we send kids back to school full-time without restrictions, people will die. Kids aren't immune to COVID-19. They may not be as adversely affected as older age groups, but that may also be because we pulled them out of school and isolated them before the outbreak hit catastrophic levels.
The grim reapers stood a safe distance away from the other protesters and held signs that said, "Open Schools Now!" and "Back to School 2020" depicted on a tombstone. In a more direct bid, one sign also read, "Face to Face = Student, teacher, staff, community, family DEATHS."
Red Apple Protesters fashioned a sign that they pointed at the Grim Reapers that read, "They Are Not With Us!" They wanted to make it very clear that their position, I suppose, is that somehow no one will be in danger if we allow hundreds of germ-y kids and at-risk teachers and staff members to gather inside on a regular basis even though we've done almost nothing to curb the spread of the virus and there is no effective treatment or vaccine.
It's either that or they're willing to risk the lives of their kids and others. Obviously, there are some parents who have been forced back to work and are struggling to find supervision for their kids during the day. But an unrestricted reopening of schools doesn't seem like a good idea.
Christine Flood of the Red Apple Protest group has offered some controversial opinions in addition to the idea that schools should reopen without restriction in the fall. She said, "Virtual teaching is only half the job, so it will only be half the pay or less because parents are giving up their time that could be spent otherwise at work," according to Essential News.
Anyone who's the least bit in touch with reality knows that virtual teaching is in many ways much more work and much harder work than teaching in person, especially for teachers who had to shift their entire focus on the fly, all of a sudden, when the pandemic hit.
Teachers aren't babysitters. They aren't paid to take your children off of your hands. They're paid to educate your kids and help them thrive intellectually.
The question of childcare when parents have to go back to work is a real one. But that responsibility should not fall on individual teachers or even school districts.
The federal government should be stepping up to pay people to stay home, assist states in forming comprehensive at-home education plans for the upcoming school year, and above all should not be forcing people back into the world to boost the economy when it will just mean more death and tragedy.