I’ve been to most of the board meetings since January. I’ve listened to arguments until midnight, with members of the board debating learning models, vaccination plans, and such topics in hopes of doing their best for our community. In every meeting, at some point, someone says it:
“These kids are so resilient. These kids are fighting so hard, and we’re so proud.”
It’s in the closings of emails, it’s from teachers, it’s from parents, it’s from politicians. Everyone loves our drive, our commitment, our strength. They acknowledge the uncertainty we face, the hours in front of screens, the unique anxieties that we deal with every day. They talk about mental health, about all that we’ve missed: sports seasons, musicals, life markers that help us chart our way in the world.
And yet, when we ask for something in return, when we ask for what we need to continue that strength, the answer is a resounding no.
Students spoke at length during the April 6th board meeting about their discomfort with returning to an all-or-nothing, 5-days-a-week model. Not only would we lose valuable time for managing schoolwork, jobs, and extracurricular activities, on top of managing mental, physical, and emotional health, but we would also be returning to an environment that violates CDC guidelines.
We expressed apprehension at putting most of the school’s population back in the building, when many of their classmates, teams, and even teachers and coaches, are incredibly lax on masking and cleaning. This, in a community that has just returned from spring break travels. This, in a state with some of the highest infection numbers in the nation.
The decision jeopardizes activities students have looked forward to all year. Spring sports have many athletes for whom this is their final season. Students in the musical have been working for months to put on a show that the entire community can be proud of. Seniors have been planning prom and graduation, among other events- capping off their high school careers, looking to the future. This is our last shot before we move on.
We need this, and the board failed us. Is this the reward we get for our resilience? For our strength, our commitment to education and community? We’re tired of platitudes.
At Monday’s board meeting, one of my classmates said “Why fix something that isn’t broken.” Wednesday worked and should not have been taken away.