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Follow the DATA

I am not a data expert; my degree is in Communication. So, this post is to communicate with you about someone who is a data expert and to share the rationale I have adopted as a Mother who this past week sent my 3 children into school for the first time since March 2020.


Emily Oster is a Harvard-educated economist at Brown University. Read this article where she discusses the data she collects titled "Covid-19 School Response Dashboard".



Emily makes these two important statements:


"We're seeing fairly optimistic information about the idea that you could have schools operate safely, even in areas where there's some reasonable amount of community spread."


and


"There's a danger of just going too far and stating [covid-19] risk as if it is a totally different thing than all other risks anyone would ever face. That's not right. But then people push back on that. It does feel to many people like this is a totally different risk and it is the only thing anyone should ever be thinking about."


Our daughter, in PreK last February, would get home before her elementary school brothers.

The news would be on and she would complain, "All they keep saying is coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus." Eleven months later, "coronavirus" is a staple in our everyday vernacular and our family has a dedicated bin of masks by our garage door. Yes, we have adapted.


In March 2020, our country was in the fog of war regarding the pandemic. Schools shut down, cities locked down, and we were all understandably worried. Would are family get it? How are children faring with it? By May and June, we learned who was most vulnerable to the disease and how to mitigate. Now it is January 2021 and we have made little progress by way of advancing our students through the pandemic.


My concern is that we have stunted the progress of our community. Indian Prairie School District 204 perpetuated misinformation and fear by not offering the choice for both remote and in-person learning in August. The inequitable opportunities of education has created division within the community among parents, students, and staff. The road for our students to recover academically, socially, and emotionally is significant.


The testimony of remote-only advocates is compelling in its fear and sense of safety. Pre-existing conditions and concerns for the elderly are absolutely cause for concern and any efforts to ensure health and safety of students and the community is never going away. Yet, neither is Covid-19. We have to live with viruses and we know how to manage this one. The in-person schedule can and should be full-time for those who opt for it as we know who is most vulnerable to the disease and how to mitigate.


As a mother, I absolutely want our 3 children to be healthy, safe, and able to face adversity. If I let fear of every single tragic event that has occurred since their births-Sandy Hook, flu deaths, car accidents, plane crashes, cancer, drug overdoses, crime, etc.-determine their opportunities, we would never leave the house! My choice to send our kids back into school is based on data and appreciation for how our educational professionals excel at teaching and enrichment.


What is basing your decision? Email me at shannonfor204@gmail.com.