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A recent heated conversation has arisen regarding sending our children to school for in-person education.  I don’t understand fully, why this has become a controversy, so I decided to do some research into the situation and give you my opinion on where we are at. 

Allegations seem to be flying around that is something out of a playbook where people try to push you into submission by name-calling, bullying and criticizing.  In response, good government policy is there to serve the good of people but also serves to improve conditions for corporations and business and the two correspond well with one another. 

I have been told that if I agree with the Governor in opening our schools, I am sentencing people to death, and I should spend days in the schools and risk my life along with the teachers.  I have no problem with that because as a military veteran with 25 years of service, I would never send my troops into a situation where I wasn’t willing to go myself.  I have no problem going anywhere or doing anything that I would recommend to anyone else and I am not just saying it, my track record proves that.

I recently shared a blurb on Facebook that correlated the number of suicides, homicides, admissions to mental institutions, deaths, and domestic abuse with increased joblessness.  As joblessness goes up so does the number of incidents such as these. There is ample study that shows as unemployment goes up so does suicide and risk of other harmful behavior in adults.  Why would this be different in adults, than in our children?  Recently, Governor Reynolds declared that our schools must prioritize in-person education and I agree with this requirement.

We already have inequality in our schools in terms of organization, time management, and pure academic skills, not to mention income and other things that in-person education can help with.  These things will become even more pronounced during prolonged school closure.  As a result, some kids will fall behind or stop learning altogether while others will keep learning at the same rate or even build these skills.  Research shows that those who are lower-income and minority will be hurt the most by these school closures. 

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) stresses the fundamental role schools have in providing academic instruction, social and emotional skills, nutrition, physical activity, and mental health therapy.  The AAP goes on to state “Evidence from spring 2020 school closures points to negative impacts on learning.  Children and adolescents also have been placed at higher risk of morbidity and mortality from physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation”.  You can view the recommendation here:  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Return-to-School-During-COVID-19.aspx

“The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present in schools” according to guidance.  The guidance from the AAP goes on but in effect states what guidance can be used to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 from the students and of course the teachers who would be teaching those students. 

Recently a hyper-partisan Facebook page has accused Governor Reynolds of making decisions that are uncaring and harmful to students and teachers combined.  This allegation is simply untrue. My take is that the risk of sending kids to school is low and far outweighs the problems associated with not sending them to school. 

Does that mean we have to be silly in the process of opening our society?  No; it simply means we open our society with great care and responsibility, while at the same time getting back to life as Iowans. Research shows the risk is great if we don’t open schools, we will hurt young Iowans for their entire life.  Lower-income Iowans will be the most affected and we just can’t afford to hurt our future.  Other countries have opened their schools with little or no increase in infection rate.  The most recent to do so is Denmark. 

The hyper-partisan Facebook page I mentioned earlier doesn’t mention the kids very often if at all, but instead talks about how the teachers don’t think it will be safe for them.  It seems they want to make political points over teaching our kids.  Now I know all teachers aren’t acting this way but the few that do are making quite a noise while those who are looking forward to getting back to work are quiet on the subject.  I appreciate representing you as your State Representative and bring our shared NW Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines.  Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

John Wills

Author: John Wills