Back on July 29th, 2020, Battle Ground Public Schools Superintendent Mark Ross announced that the district would begin the school year with remote instruction. He wrote, “...We recognize that having staff and students together in classrooms during this time of high transmission puts their health and safety at greater risk for contracting the virus. The safety of our staff, students, and families is a top priority, and I am not willing to take a chance that our staff and families could be exposed to COVID-19 when alternative options are available to us. Remote learning would also eliminate the likely burden of continual and unpredictable classroom and/or school closures due to exposures to the virus.“
Since Mark Ross wrote those words in July, what has changed and what remains the same as of Nov 23?
Transmission of the virus is growing exponentially.
Hospitalizations are much higher. Nurses and doctors are exhausted
Last week 10 people died from Covid-19 in Clark County.
Contact tracers at Public Health are overwhelmed and shifting the responsibility to our schools and infected individuals.
Teachers and students are testing positive and exposing people to the virus in our schools. Students and staff are having to quarantine after attending in-person kindergarten.
Amidst all this negative news, there is great hope in the form of three safe and effective vaccines. The chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed says herd immunity through vaccination may be possible by May 2021. With the dual reality of a surging virus, but the prospect of vaccines that could be widely distributed within this school year, I ask Battle Ground Public Schools to please put any additional hybrid plans on hold and move kindergarten back to remote. Mr. Ross’s words in July still remain true.
Coronavirus is the third leading cause of death this year in the United States. More than five times as many Americans have now died from the coronavirus than died in battle during the Vietnam War. In 1971, John Kerry asked Congress, “how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Nearly 50 years later, I ask the school board and district a similar question: How can you ask any additional staff or students to expose themselves and their loved ones to this deadly virus? How can you ask them to be the last man to die from COVID-19? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake when hope is on the horizon?