Families scramble as schools close

Luay Rahil

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Come closer. I need to tell you something our school system is about to collapse.

Teachers are overworked and undervalued. They are underpaid and underappreciated. Teachers are tired of being teachers, nurses, dietitians, social workers, clean-up crews, and after-school caretakers.

As a new COVID-19 variant threatens our economy and school system, parents are left worried about what to do with their kids if schools close again. Today, the Dow recorded its worst drop of 2021 as the new coronavirus variant rattles global markets, and no one knows the real impact on our struggling school districts yet.

NPR reported this week that "Schools and districts around the country have been canceling classes on short notice. The cancellations aren't directly for COVID-19 quarantines; instead, schools are citing staff shortages, staff fatigue, mental health, and sometimes even student fights."

Michigan

For example, Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan announced that schools would be closed the following Monday and Tuesday, extending Thanksgiving break for a full week. There are serious concerns that staff shortage will force Ann Arbor Public Schools and other districts to close schools longer than planned.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift said, "District officials "pursued every option available" to keep schools open next week, but a spike in COVID cases among staff and contractors since Friday is impacting all areas of operations, including classrooms, school buildings, food service, transportation and custodial.

Last week, Alena Zachery-Ross, the superintendent of Ypsilanti Community Schools in Michigan, told parents that they were taking the full week off for Thanksgiving.

Iowa

This month, the Central City Community School District canceled classes in Iowa due to staffing shortages. With a mixture of staff absences and not enough substitutes, the superintendent chose it was best not to have school. But, as you see, this staff shortage is not limited to one area. It's widespread.

Craig Bryant, CEO at Kin, understands the education issues more than most politicians, "Subtract public school systems from our society, and kids don't just lose their education and a chance to compete in a global economy. Some will also go hungry. Others will lose the one safe place in their lives where there's an adult to listen to them. Parents will also lose their "child care which is critical to most families.

North Carolina

Earlier this year, The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction reported that enrollment dropped 5% across all school districts, as most of them opened remotely. State officials said they expected a rebound this year but weren't sure how that would play out. Unfortunately, that rebound hasn't happened yet.

These negative trends are pushing a lot of teachers to quit and pursue other careers. This is not healthy, and politicians should focus on understanding children's needs, parents' needs, and teachers' needs to create a solution that helps all stakeholders.

We are smart enough to create a better school system that makes it easier for teachers to teach and safer for kids to learn.

What is the best way to simultaneously help our kids, teachers, and parents?


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