Many school districts sent emails during the holiday season preparing parents and students for the likely possibility that it would be necessary to return to remote learning in January due to the “surge in Omicron cases.” Seattle Public School, Bellevue School District and Northshore School District are a few that I have seen send this email communication to families. In addition, teachers’ unions at a national level and state and local levels across the country are pushing for a return to remote learning.
One group, National Educators United, has been running a campaign since December asking people to sign a petition to Joe Biden asking for a 2 week pause on in person education to slow the community spread. In their petition, they cite a study done in July of 2020 that studied school closures – based on that original “2 weeks to slow the spread.” We all know how well that worked. It’s 2 weeks times 50 now and cases are higher than ever because the transmissibility of Omicron is so high. It’s also about as dangerous as the common cold. And it is currently cold and flu season, so this is all kind of “par for the course” so to speak.
In a Covid update on December 22nd, Seattle Public Schools said:
“We recognize students learn best with teachers in the classroom and are planning to keep students and staff in schools. SPS is positioned, however, to transition classrooms (or schools) to remote instruction, if necessary, at some point in January.”
The Northshore School District sent a New Year COVID Update on December 31st stating:
“Given the high level of transmissibility predicted, I think it is prudent to plan for the possibility that we may need to temporarily return to remote learning at some point in the next couple of weeks. I will keep you updated regularly as to this possibility.”
We know that Omicron is highly transmissible, but we also know that it is essentially a common cold with mild symptoms and very low rate of hospitalization. We also know that children are not at risk for Covid. As soon as the Omicron variant was recognized in November, we started hearing the unions and schools talking about the need to shut down and revert back to remote learning – which we know is very detrimental to our children. Having our students out of the classes has much greater consequences for our children than contracting the Omicron cold.
This is a game that the teachers unions across the country and right here in Washington are playing at the expense of our children. The schools are demanding more testing for students so they can show a rise in cases and use it as an excuse to return to remote learning.
It’s time for school choice. It’s time for funding to follow the child. Our government schools have too much power by taxpayer funding and they are not impacted when students unenroll. This has been made even worse in Washington with Covid concessions made by our state legislators to make up for any loss of funding to our schools. We pay for these schools and it’s time for us to fight to make our dollars work for our kids.
In Washington, Representative Jim Walsh has introduce HB-1633 that would allow families and students more choice through the family empowerment scholarship program. If you are a Washington voter and you believe families should funding for their choice of schools, please take a moment to comment on this bill and reach out to your representatives. It will be crucial to make sure the democrat representatives hear from us in volume! The 2022 legislative session begins on January 10th.
*By Julie Barrett, Founder, Conservative Ladies of Washington