I got an email from the superintendent of the West Hartford Public Schools informing me that the school system will be fully reopening on March 17th. Saint Patrick’s Day. Next week. I’m utterly baffled. What’s changed? None of the kids are vaccinated yet. Most of their parents aren’t vaccinated yet. People are still dying of COVID. Numbers may be down, but the threat certainly isn’t over. Why is next week the “right time?”
All of the parents I talk to are upset about it. I know “parents I talk to” isn’t a representative sample, but it doesn’t help the situation that the school system won’t listen to us or acknowledge us. They’ve been dismissive and condescending at every turn. I’m not sure what they care about, but it doesn’t seem to be the families that populate their town.
WHPS isn’t the only one. It seems most of the local school districts are doing the same thing. Texas and Mississippi have dropped their mask mandates. Governor Lamont is talking about reopening Connecticut. There seems to be something in the air, in addition to the virus. This doesn’t seem to be an evidence based decision on any level.
As a matter of fact, the experts are all warning us not to try to get back to normal too soon. They say we won’t reach herd immunity until at least the summer. I want to get back to normal as much as anyone, but we’ve managed for a year. We can stretch that to 13 or 14 months. An extra few weeks of in person schooling isn’t going to do anything. This is a lost school year. Reopening has the potential to cause great harm.
I still honestly don’t know if shutting everything down was the right response to the pandemic, but it was the response. At this point, we should see it through. As a society, we don’t want to be one of those runners who starts celebrating early and gets passed just before the finish line. I don’t like rhetorical questions, so I do want an answer to the question I’m posing. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is one.