So right now, and in fact for most of the summer, one of the biggest COVID-19 debates is whether it’s safe enough for kids to go back to school. Cases have surged to the point where 10,000+ new cases a day is the new norm here in Florida, and last week one of the teachers unions sued our governor for mandating that the school year resumes next month with in-classroom instruction.

Many counties, including ours, have already pushed their start dates back two weeks, but the looming question is really whether that’s enough to give time for schools to create a safe learning environment for both students and staff.

This, of course, is happening after President Trump just pressured the CDC to revise their guidelines for schools reopening because he thought that the existing rules were too hard or too expensive to support … which of course, resulted in new guidelines last week basically supporting reopening schools with pages of text about the importance of schools and very little on how to keep them actually safe.

Personally, I’m still very torn about the issue. A few weeks ago, we made the decision for Christopher and David to do in-classroom instruction, and Matthew do virtual school with help from his in-home therapist during the day. We were most confident about Christopher because he’s starting at a new charter school that really seems to have its ducks in order about how they’re going to operate; David’s public school … less so, but we don’t think it will be productive to have multiple kids at home doing virtual school during the day.

And even since then, our schools have come back and said that masks will now be mandatory for students and teachers are being very vocal at voicing their very valid concerns for their own safety.

I get that it’s a complicated issue because most parents can’t stay home with their kids all day in the event that classroom instruction gets cancelled again, and yet I also feel like it’s important to remember that the role of the school system is not to serve as babysitters so that parents can go to work!

The reason why I really wanted to write this post is because there seems to be this weird perspective across the Trump administration and the Republican party that kids need to go back to school so that the economy can recover … which I don’t understand because it’s not like people are staying home from work just because they have to watch their kids.

I mean, we’ve been on summer break for two months, which happens every single year…

The sad reality is that a lot of jobs have basically evaporated due to COVID because the world had to change – people aren’t out shopping and eating in restaurants and going on vacations because they don’t feel safe. Businesses have cut back on buying things from each other due to economic uncertainty, and teams aren’t traveling to conferences and customer sites for safety reasons, and a lot of these problems just aren’t going to resolve themselves in September because suddenly the kids are back in school again.

I’ve heard financial analysts say that it could take 3 – 5 years for places like Disney World to get back to the record attendance and revenue levels that they were enjoying just six months ago, and there’s no doubt that a lot of businesses across the board simply aren’t going to be able to stick around long enough to see that level of consumer confidence actually return.

In a perfect world, the worst-affected businesses could just hit pause and wait this thing out for a year, but with everybody having bills to pay, that doesn’t seem to be possible for most industries.

I don’t claim to have all of the answers for how to “fix the economy,” but I think it’s going to take a while and I don’t think it’s fair to couple this problem with the separate issue of ensuring a safe environment in which to teach our kids. I want my kids to get back to learning, but it’s not fair to all of the teachers and staff who support their education to force the issue if they don’t believe that it can be done safely right now.

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