Our state department of education, after months of lobbying, issued guidance two days before the school year started that gave school districts permission to pay for aides to work with children like our son in the home, but they didn’t mandate it and our district has repeatedly declined to do so. Our son is legally entitled under federal law to a “free and appropriate public education,” but was only offered one if we placed him at higher risk of Covid by sending him to school, and we made the hard choice.
Maybe it was the wrong choice. No one should have to make this choice, but parents all over the country are being squeezed between bad options. Teachers and other school employees, likewise, have to choose between safety and their jobs. We don’t blame anyone who works with our son; the whole situation is untenable.
Fortunately, there’s another path to take going forward. We know more lockdowns are coming, but this time, we could prioritize children over bars, restaurants, working out, sports and socializing in our homes. It’s time to keep schools and daycares open — and shut almost everything else down.
A number of states have taken recent steps to curb the explosive and renewed spread of the novel coronavirus, but not all mitigation efforts are created equal. In my own state of Minnesota, as well as New York, the Democratic governors have issued new restrictions on social gatherings and entertainment, but they seem woefully inadequate. Both states are closing bars and restaurants after 10 p.m., as if the virus only comes out late at night. New Yorkers can still pant and sweat in public gyms until that hour. In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz is banning social gatherings of “members of more than 3 households,” which is two households too many.