Help our children of the North Conejos School District return to normalcy after covid
Help our children of the North Conejos School District return to normalcy after covid
Why this petition matters
Dear Members of The North Conejos School Board and School Administrators,
First and foremost, we wish to express our deep gratitude for your service to our children and our community. As parents, we know how special and unique our district is and how it stands as a benchmark to other communities in and out of the valley. We appreciate you and commend you for your service.
We also wish to relay our appreciation for the trials and hardships you have endured these past two years. As parents, we can only imagine the stress, frustration, concern and anxiety each of our teachers, administrators and other staff have faced through this unknown illness. It is a real disease with very unfortunate consequences. Without knowing the full outcome and effects that covid would play on our communities, you responded the best you could with what you knew and we are so grateful for your tireless service to our children. We feel for those families in our community who have lost employment, economic stability, suffered severe mental health challenges, suffered the loss of loved ones or are simply reeling from the consequences of instability in every aspect of life. For our school teachers, the endless adjustments to schedules, preparation for online learning at the drop of a hat, and never-ending and confusing guidelines that interrupted consistent and effective teaching have been no small challenge. We can’t say enough how thankful we are for your sacrifices.
While covid has played a significant challenge to many of the aged and those with comorbidities, fortunately, it has not had the same physical health impact on our children. While there are rare exceptions, parents recognize the blessing that covid has done little to impact their overall health. Time has provided us an incredible insight into the small impact covid has had on these children.
Nevertheless, covid, or more accurately, regulations and restrictions placed on our children due to the unknown danger of covid, has impacted our children in a profoundly harmful way. The continual lockdowns and quarantines have caused more trauma to our youth than the disease. Any mitigation of covid should cause less harm to our students than the actual illness, yet this has not proven to be the case. While we knew very little early on, and intelligently implemented efforts to protect these children’s health, time has proven these methods unnecessary and costly. A recent study by John Hopkins, regarding the impact and effectiveness of lockdown measures, shared the following:
“Overall, we conclude that lockdowns are not an effective way of reducing mortality rates during a pandemic…The use of lockdowns is a unique feature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns have not been used to such a large extent during any of the pandemics of the past century. However, lockdowns during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating effects. They have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy. These costs to society must be compared to the benefits of lockdowns, which our meta-analysis has shown are marginal at best. Such a standard benefit-cost calculation leads to a strong conclusion: lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.”
Any rational person has seen the undesirable effect restrictions have had on even the most loved and family supported children, not to mention those children whose most influential support comes from within the walls of our school buildings, not within the walls of their home. The consequences are widespread. Social isolation which has and will likely lead in time to social disorders, increase in depression and anxiety that is already prevalent in our young population, increase in risky behavior and suicidal tendencies, major disruptions in the necessary structure and consistency needed for students to learn effectively, increase in exposure to abuse and negligence for children who are raised in homes that lack even the basic levels of parental support, missing very important and key concepts necessary to be successful in higher education, falling behind in basic education standards due to missing class and receiving instruction through ineffective online learning systems (this truth confirmed vocally by many of the teachers in our very own school system who are doing their very best) …the list of complications could go on and on.
Education experts are very clear in stating that successful learning occurs through structured environments. Children who understand expectations clearly, who are placed in a well-organized learning environment and who face few disruptions in the learning process will find far greater success. In no way are these statements meant to undermine or mock the efforts of our educators. We feel many of them have been outstanding in adjusting to these fallible requirements they have had to endure. Yet, the outcome has not been the same nor has it been sufficient.
We also understand as parents, who stand as the most important stewards of our children, that their health decisions are our responsibility. Through this pandemic, we have all had to make important calculations in regard to their protection and safety. Some have sought vaccination as an important method to decrease risk. Some have questioned its legitimacy and have felt less favorable towards vaccination. Some have understood the roles of natural immunity and have felt safe knowing that their family has built immunity as they have endured sickness. Some have strongly supported mask wear, improved personal hygiene and cleanliness to subdue risk. While opinions have varied, it is critical to realize that ultimately these decisions are in the hands of the parents, not doctors, not health departments, but parents. While these professionals should be valued, listened to and their opinions sought after, it is a God-given right for the parent to evaluate that risk and use their own experiences and wisdom to answer for the safety and well-being of their children. Vaccination against covid is readily available and has been for some time. At this stage, those who have felt safety in vaccination have surely done so. Those who oppose it are not going to abruptly change their opinion and have assumed the risk of doing so. Knowing that this virus will not disappear, barring a miracle, it is important to understand that now is the time to allow parents to accept whatever level of risk they deem appropriate and allow normalcy to return to our children’s educational environment.
It is with this knowledge that we, as parents, are seeking a significant and common sense modification to the current measures in place to protect our children. We are seeking a less disruptive and more consistent return to normalcy, free of unnecessary regulations, restrictions and interruptions. We encourage a significant change to be made in regard to COVID policies at the district level, while still applying common sense regulations to mitigate major spread of disease. With covid being a far lesser concern than our children’s overall mental health, we are proposing the following:
1. First and foremost, please return the governance of these children’s health decisions back to us parents, without penalizing us for our choices. While we are thankful for experts and will continue to listen to their counsel and advice, the ultimate authority of our children’s health rests firmly upon the backs of the parents/guardians.
2. We request that mask wear and vaccination be optional. Regardless of the effectiveness of mask wear, the decision to wear a mask rests solely on the choice of the parent and their child. This does not exclude an individual from wearing facial coverings should they desire. In fact, no child should be intimidated or forced to remove a mask should they or their parents feel it necessary for their safety. We encourage children to follow the counsel of their caretakers. Yet, in the same regard, no child should be forced to follow those protocols not approved by their parent(s). This should equally apply to vaccination status. We have calculated the risk, have chosen our methods of protection and ask that our choices be respected.
3. We encourage children who are sick with any communicable disease to remain home until symptoms of transmission are no longer present. A child’s parent should be alerted of any possible exposure to those who contracted covid. Should your child be exposed, and is showing symptoms, we encourage them to remain home until the child has recovered. Otherwise, if your child was exposed, yet is exhibiting no symptoms, they are welcome to remain at school. Ultimately, it is the parents’ decision to allow their child to remain at school or keep them at home.
4. Should parents be alerted of a possible exposure to covid, they are welcome to quarantine their child based on local guidelines. The school should continue to recognize the parents request and support that child through remote learning as has been done in the past. No child should be alienated if their parents feel it in their best interest to quarantine their student.
We reiterate our appreciation for health professionals, health departments, nurses, school administrators, teachers and staff and all those who have worked selflessly to support our children through unknown territory. Yet, at this time, we ask that you respect our autonomy and understand our ultimate desires to create a more stable and consistent environment for our children. Please support us, as parents, and seek to understand the desires of those you have enlisted to serve in your various roles. Thank you for your consideration.
Parents of the North Conejos School District