This petition is to request Governor Andrew Cuomo of NY State require all school districts to offer remote learning to all families who may want to choose it for their children next year.
In the last few days, we have learned more information about how children can contract and spread COVID that, unlike previous studies, suggests children do contract and spread the virus.
In Georgia, 260 children contracted COVID at an overnight camp in only 2-3 days, even though precautions were in place. 51% of those children were in the 6-10 year old age group. The CDC now concludes that "Children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and contrary to early reports, might play a important role in transmission."
Although the NYS guidelines for school re-opening only requires schools to offer a a remote only option to vulnerable students with health issues, some school districts have chosen to go further and offer this option to all students, but some school districts have not.
Given this new information out of Georgia, we are calling on Governor Cuomo to require all school districts to offer a remote only option to all families without restrictions, and to provide financial and logistical support to districts to do this.
There are many benefits to requiring all schools to offer remote learning to everyone other than responding to the newest research on how children contract and spread the virus.
First and foremost, permitting all families the choice of virtual learning makes it easier for the schools as a whole to social distance those children whose families choose to or need to send them to school. There would be less children to manage on site in the first place, and all of our kids, whether learning from home or in school, would be safer in the long run.
Secondly, teachers with health concerns or safety concerns who are being forced to reconsider their careers or retire would not have to do so as they could volunteer to teach students remotely, keeping their jobs.
Third, if virtual-only learning is offered to all families, vulnerable children would not be "outed" as vulnerable. Their privacy would be protected a no one would know which students working remotely were vulnerable. This would help prevent future possible bullying of children who had to work remotely due to their own physical or mental conditions.
Fourth, families would not have to disclose other private or personal information for virtual accommodations in the middle of a pandemic. There are many reasons families may not feel safe sending their children into school which are, quite frankly, none of the school district’s business. Some possible examples could include:
- A child’s vulnerable grandparents may live with them part of the year.
- A parent might have a health condition that makes them vulnerable.
- A parent might help care for an elderly neighbor they do not want to put at risk.
- A parent might have post traumatic stress disorder related to a prior health situation and sending their kids back to school would be a risk to their mental health.
- A parent just does not feel comfortable sending their children back because there is so much we do not know about COVID and its long term effects.
And finally, while it is true families could choose to homeschool or send their children to private online schools if they could not choose remote learning, they should not be forced to do so because of lack of choice in New York's own public school district.
If the schools have to implement virtual learning to accommodate vulnerable children anyways, Cuomo should require them to open it up to all families, no questions asked.
Every family’s situation is different. Every teacher's situation is different. And everyone is trying to do what we think is best for our families during this crisis. Accommodating those differences while respecting privacy is appropriate and a way of showing respect and kindness towards everyone as we navigate these difficult times together.