Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson

Right now, a child is isolated from social interaction, on a computer, not paying attention and falling further behind in education.

Right now, a qualified teacher is doing their best trying to hold a virtual classroom; frustrated and failing with little resources and no feedback from the blank screens of the children on the other side.

Online school seemed like a good idea -- in theory.

A few hours of classes via a computer at home and we would help flatten the spread of a virus.

But the truth is, it is not the cause of the spread, and it doesn't really work for students, teachers, families or communities.

By trying to protect the community and shutting down schools, the cure is far worse than the disease. We need to follow the science and open schools back up for the children immediately. The parents need a say in the education of their children and David Gilliam, the superintendent of Madison County Schools, needs to listen and do the right thing.

The one thing that is surely beneficial for a child is the social interaction that not only includes the parents but children of the same age as well. Time in classrooms and with friends is a highly important time for developing various skills that will help them move forward in the future and fit into society.

For many kids, school is a safe space and important for both mental and physical health. Science, doctors and other agencies note increases in child abuse, depression and other mental health issues in children as a result of keeping our kids at home. In fact, research has shown that depression and anxiety rates have gone up for children during school closures.

It puts a strain on families and the overall community. Not everyone has a computer and dedicated internet or the resources of a quiet and safe space for their virtual schooling.

Then there is the fact that many parents need to go to work. This is a strain on balancing their livelihood with their role now as a homeschool teacher. They are forced to not earn a living or leave their 10-year-old at home, unsupervised.

Sadly, many kids are being left in homes unsupervised with the hope that they will log in to a virtual classroom on their own.

The quality of education is another major factor.

My child and many others are falling behind and struggling to keep up. Despite good teachers trying, concepts in art, math and hands-on sciences are almost impossible to teach virtually. A substantial research base developed by Karl Alexander at Johns Hopkins University and many others shows that students, especially students with fewer resources at home, learn less when they are not in school.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advocates that all policy considerations should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.

Kids get infected with coronavirus at much lower rates than adults. Even in high-risk areas, school infection rates for students were less than half a percent. In the New York area, the childcare centers that remained open and oversaw about 10,000 children in 170 centers, very few of the children were infected and even fewer were able to infect adults.

Your child is not bringing the virus home either or spreading it to adults.

In household clusters in Singapore, South Korea, and Japan, fewer than 10% of children were the primary spreader -- meaning the virus goes from adult to adult much more effectively than from children to other children, or even children to adults.

The same can be found here in Madison County, when schools were open during part of the 2019-20 session there was no increase in infectious rates that could be correlated to in person classrooms.

There is no evidence closing schools will control transmission.

Following the science, on Oct. 14, 2020, the Infectious Diseases Society of America gave a briefing on safe school reopening.

The bottom line?

"The data so far are not indicating that schools are a superspreader site," said Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Michigan's medical school.

I am confident in our schools, teachers, and administrators that they are able to keep our children and community safe. They have already proven last year that they can have in-person learning and take the appropriate precautions during these times. They can provide a choice for parents to do what they feel is right. I know given the opportunity, our schools can open safely for those that wish to send their children back to school.

If we really want to do what is best for the children, and in light of the evidence and science, we would get our kids back in school immediately. Kids learn better face to face, especially younger kids. And lastly, remember, kids need to go to school to learn well, to have structure, and to have socialization. We want them to be holistically healthy -- physically and mentally.

School done the right way can help us accomplish those goals and be the best thing for the child, families, and community. Parents need to have their voice heard and make calls to our Superintendent David Gilliam and board of education members to reopen Madison County Schools.

Eric Wilson is married with three children and calls Richmond Kentucky his home with youngest daughter attending B. Michael Caudill Middle School.  He is the Director of Thought Leadership for Institute of Business Forecasting (IBF) and Accomplished Author and International Public Speaker.

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