Letters to the Editor: December 24 – 30, 2020
F.C. Schools Not Following The Science With Reopening Plans
The superintendent and school board are certainly in an unenviable position of deciding how to educate students during a pandemic, but many of the reasons for their actions do not stand up to scrutiny.
Schools are closed to “keep staff and students safe,” yet most research suggest that schools are not major contributors of Covid spread, especially with the number of precautions FCCPS has put in place (though regular testing is conspicuously absent not only from the current mitigation strategy but also from any public discussions of the reopening plan) and particularly with younger children. In fact, it was noted at the last school board meeting that none of the cases among students and staff originated in the schools, and at that time, those student and staff cases had not been linked to any secondary infections within the schools.
The stated reason for keeping sports open and schools closed is that “sports are optional.” This reasoning makes absolutely no sense. During an emergency, it is usually the optional activities that are jettisoned first. FCCPS is going to allow school activities that are optional to continue and close down the essential part of what schools provide: education. The closure of schools and not sports suggests that it is education that is the optional activity for FCCPS.
Regarding guidance from state and federal agencies: the constant refrain since March is that no one is telling us when to open the schools. Across the country, across the world, and even in private schools in our own community, in-person education continues in the face of rising cases (some places with much higher levels of Covid spread than NOVA or Falls Church) because those communities have determined, on their own and with the same guidance that has been available to FCCPS, that in-person education is vital for children. It has been up to each community (not some central overlord) to choose how to express how they value education. FCCPS has expressed how it values education, for better or for worse.