Sound Off – Marty Nighswander 6-18-20

Jun 17, 2020 | Sound Off | 0 comments

To the Editor:

As a retired teacher and grandmother, I want to address school reopening.  I’m not concerned about my grandson who is scheduled to start Kindergarten in the fall getting sick from COVID 19, with its seemingly negligible impact on otherwise healthy children. He is more likely to catch and be seriously ill or die from the flu than this disease. I am concerned about the measures that are being proposed to “avoid” the supposed spread of this virus. Consider:

  1. CDC states a mortality rate of 0.2.
  2. Two recent WHO reports: asymptomatic spread of COVID 19 is very rare; there is no evidence that children under the age of 10 have transmitted the disease.
  3. At least 70% of Covid-19 deaths in Ohio have been in nursing homes.
  4. Children of lower socio-economic status and minority groups are significantly less likely to have access to computers and internet at home. These parents are also more likely to have jobs that cannot be done remotely.
  5. The impact of alternate/modified/virtual learning days on parents who are able to return to work/work from home.

Children are not just learning math and reading at school, but how to read social cues, respond with empathy, and develop unspoken communication. Requiring masks prevents this completely.

Teachers policing social distancing and adjusting students’ masks requires constant hand sanitizing, impacting teaching time. Young children will not understand how to wear them properly or keep from touching them. Constant sanitizing on their part will interrupt learning time.

Social distancing can make children afraid of teachers and peers. It seems ludicrous a young child might be scolded or punished for touching another child. How can students be “comforted” from 6 feet away by a teacher if they feel nervous, take a fall, or have a bad day?

If teachers wear masks, students will be unable to understand them. Not to mention the loss of any nonverbal cuing from facial expressions for encouragement, empathy, praise or that ‘look’ that stops negative behavior in its tracks.

Given that 17% of the U.S. pediatric population is overweight or obese, the cancellation of gym classes, severe limitations on sports and encouraging more screen time with virtual learning does not address comorbidity and increases likelihood of contracting the disease and making complications more likely.

I ask for a reconsideration of the plans to reopen schools. Fear of a virus that has nearly nonexistent effects on school children should not continue to impact their education so drastically. Mandatory masks, virtual learning, and social distancing will doom the true education of our children.

Marty Nighswander, Catawba Island
MEd-Reading (35+ years experience)

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