Amid growing numbers of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths, I’ve spoken to educators who told me they’re afraid for their lives and the health of their loved ones. Meanwhile, some organized groups of parents are issuing increasingly forceful calls to reopen schools. But too many of them neglect the teachers.
“We’re seeing in municipality after municipality, schools reopen with the idea of equity and, repeatedly, minority students are returning to schools at the lowest rates,” maternal and child health epidemiologist Theresa Chapple told me. “Black and brown communities have experienced the brunt of the virus and therefore are limiting family exposure. Black and brown families are more likely to live in multigenerational homes. For my children to go to school, dropoff would happen between parents, pickup between grandparents. It’s not as simple as sending a child to school.”
Currently, too many educators don’t have the choices they need, including to teach online only. Virtual education isn’t an ideal solution, but it’s an option teachers must have. Decision makers, school boards and parents cannot neglect the teachers — the heart of education — who are working harder than ever during this unprecedented time. Teachers deserve our gratitude. They don’t deserve to die.