Thursday, April 25, 2024

CDA schools, don’t subject students to this

by Roger Garlock
| August 11, 2020 1:00 AM

As a parent of two school-age children and having worked in social services, educational environments and mental health facilities, there is an important perspective I felt needed to be heard.

Given the current scenarios facing our schools it is a tough position to be in. I know the superintendent and his team have no doubt come to a conclusion on how to proceed with the pending school year. However, there are still voices to be heard beyond the surveys given to those most affected by changes to the structure of school. Some of which may have been filled out based on necessity.

I would like to point out some potential harm to our kids and teachers that the survey doesn’t take into account. We have already seen the district take a reactionary, ill-advised step when they shut down the entire system for almost a month with little evidence or reasoning and upon the return to “teaching” it was a minimal effort of sparse Zoom meeting and worksheets, leaving most with incomplete years. We have seen Lakeland and Post Falls come up with their solutions and now it’s CDA’s turn. When considering the oxymorons of social distancing and the new normal that you are trying to achieve with safety precautions of masks and isolation, please consider the emotional well-being of our kids. You are creating nothing more than an environment of loneliness, anxiety, disconnect, loss of identity and fear.

We already have a pandemic of mental health with our youth. Why would any solution that exasperates these feelings even be considered? Imagine being a sixth grade student going to a bigger new school where you don’t know anyone and the comfort of familiarity is gone. Sounds pretty hard, doesn’t it? Well now let’s add to that masks where you can no longer smile at a girl or a boy in the hallway or any friendly face for that matter. You are muffled in your speech from a distance. You are segregated and you lose a huge aspect of communication and connection from kids and teachers. What do you think that may do to this individual or any kid in school?

High school kids, our youngest kids at kindergarten, these shoddy solutions do nothing for them being well adjusted or for their mental well-being. Where does it end? Disease is not new to the petri dish that are schools. What do you do for Meningitis, MRSA, the flu, the cold, lice, pink eye? Do we shave their heads and disinfect them as they walk into school in the name of prevention?

Now let’s think of the teachers who are already overburdened with top down government garbage that they are encumbered with in being effective. The plan is to create a hybrid model of education, essentially doubling the work, and taking away their personal connections to students as well. With overcrowding and all the excessive mandates like testing, common core, ESSA, IDEA regulations you name it, where individual control is almost nonexistent, at this point you are adding on split teaching methods, and a lack of consistency based on this defcon color system — odd student groupings and an impersonal environment.

This is a recipe for mediocrity. Bring on the worksheets; lots and lots of worksheets. How could anyone keep up with such an intrusive system? A teacher’s job is to connect and educate. Do these “new normals” support that? And when does it end?

This is no way to welcome students back who have been out of school for nearly six months by inviting them into a mentally, emotionally and academically harmful environment.

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Roger Garlock is a Coeur d’Alene resident.