By Erika Mendy Etzo
Broward County Public Schools hasn’t asked me my opinion on going back to school in August, but I will go ahead and offer it anyway.
I get why people want schools to open. In all honesty, I’ve been locked in my house with a two-year-old since March 13, so I am dying to get out of the house. I actually miss my classroom and my work friends and my students.
However, it is just illogical to reopen in August. Numbers are higher than ever, and summer camps are being infected, with more closing each day.
Why aren’t we using this time to plan for the inevitable? If we go back, it’s just a matter of time. Someone will get it. What then? Do we switch to distance learning at that time? Why not use this time to try to plan on where we will end up anyway at home.
I was brave enough to come to school with the fear of yet another school shooting, but this is scary too. I think I’m brave enough to do it as I don’t have much of a choice if I have to pay my bills, but what if I get it? What if I give it to my son? My father? My students? What if someone I love dies because I have been forced back into a classroom. What if a student gets it on my watch. I can’t imagine living with that.
It’s easy to say, “spread students out and have them wear masks.” But you all know, we just can’t meet the CDC guidelines that will keep us safe. It is impossible with our numbers and resources.
So stop all this back and forth. I want to go back to school too, really badly. But, if you are honest with yourself, it just can’t work. Not right now.
I think it’s irresponsible to toss all our kids and teachers into a classroom and cross our fingers, hoping it will work out. It won’t.
I know what I say doesn’t matter, because why would I know anything? I’ve just been in the classroom for 16 years.
So teachers will probably fall in line and do what we are asked to do without making the money we deserve, without the appreciation we have always wanted, and without any regard for our lives or safety.
Honestly, I’m not surprised. It’s how teachers have always been treated. But I am surprised by the parents who have no hesitation putting their babies in a room full of germs seven hours a day in the middle of a global pandemic.
Erika Mendy Etzo has been a teacher for 16 years. She currently teaches 5th Grade at Ramblewood Elementary School in Coral Springs and lives in Fort Lauderdale. Her views are her own and are not representative of Broward County Public Schools.
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