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  • Devon Updegraff-Day

The "new norm?" I think not!

The “new norm.” We must get used to the “new norm.” The “new norm” is for our own good, it is how we remain safe, healthy. This “new norm” is being constantly fed to the American public by news outlets and experts, ensuring us all that these protective measures will make the difference in our own health and the health of those around us. Well renowned Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson believes repetition is a common tactic frequently used by those aiming to ingrain specific beliefs in others, as one’s susceptibility to repetition is the “weakness in the human sensory system.” This idea of repetition used as tool for brainwashing should be kept in the back of one’s mind, especially when being told this is the “new norm.”

In the name of public health, they have shut down small businesses while allowing the larger companies with public stock to remain “essential” and open for business. Schools were suddenly shut down, with little closure for the children reliant on not just the security, consistency, and educational environment but also the social environment. We are social beings and have survived as social beings for 200,000 years, now suddenly our mere existence has become the problem. Have we simply forgotten that bacteria and fungus existence on our skin, in our nose and in our GI tract? Have we forgotten that exposure to everyday germs is what gives our body the information needed to protect itself? As a whole, we have survived illnesses that were far more devastating than Covid-19 and we survived them without living in a sterilized solitude. I recently came across a headline from the Washington Post that read, “Coronavirus may never go away, even with a vaccine.” Wait, I’m confused, did I miss the moment where HIV, herpes, influenza, hepatitis, measles, Ebola and SARS were eradicated? Each one still exists today and yet we have survived, adapted and all without becoming terrified of our own shadow. Why is Covid-19 different? Since February 1, there have been 76,874 Covid-19 deaths compared to the 91,405 deaths associated to pneumonia (Provisional Death Count, 2020). Pneumonia is nothing new; it is dangerous to the immunocompromised, to the elderly, to the young and yet the CDC has never recommended nationwide lockdowns, the wearing gloves outside the home, avoidance of social gatherings or mandated masks. Why are the 91,405 deaths from pneumonia not a concern but the 76,874 Covid-19 deaths a nationwide devastation warranting such extreme safety measures? Why does Covid-19 warrant a “new norm?”

My reason for this long post is because this hysteria has oozed into our schools. The week of spring break for many local schools marked the end of the school year. All schools were shut down and home school education fell upon the shoulders of every parent without warning, preparation or consideration to the child’s home environment. I understand it was a decision made by our Governor, but it was a decision that I did not agree with. No attempt was made to accommodate the families without childcare or for the children who find comfort, guidance, support and safety in the walls of their school. I believe the schools should have remained open by simply asking families with the ability to home school their children to do so, giving those with full time jobs or additional funds to spare on food and childcare the opportunity to remain on campus with reduced class sizes. I truly believe that by eliminating electives such as music, choir, art and PE, class size could have been reduced, recess and lunch could have been staggered and the schools could have remained open. But the 2019-2020 school year is in the past and decisions for the upcoming school year are being made at this very moment.

Summer break has just begun and rampant discussion on the possible future school health safety measures and guidelines have become ever present on my social media newsfeed. The CDC has released their recommended guidelines and it appears a majority of public, private and charter schools are considering implementing a bulk of the recommendations for the new school year. Where do I fall in regard to these “new” recommendations? Well, anyone reading this blog likely knows the answer to that question. First, many of these recommendation by the CDC are not new; apparently the world has forgotten the simple steps to avoid spreading illness. Buses to be wipe down, reasonable (I was under the impression that was being done), wiping down hard surfaces on a regular basis, reasonable (again, I thought we were already doing this) and children who do not feeling well stay home (ground-breaking). Where I believe common sense begins to dissipate is the notion that all school staff should be required to wear masks, physical dividers should be in place, body temperatures being taken at the start of every school day, the elimination of school field trips and the prohibition of any physical contact between two people including children. I understand many parents are fearful for the health and safety of their child and I absolutely respect that. But accommodations for those concerned can easily be made. Parents should be given the option to keep their child home until they feel comfortable for their return. It should be up to the school to accommodate for extended home schooling that follows the exact same curriculum as their designated class. A child choosing to continue school from home should be assigned to a class, attendance would be taken by the teacher daily through a 30 minute zoom session allowing the teacher to touch base, assignment submission would be required and graded with after school private tutoring sessions available to assist with specific areas of confusion. Schools need to be open, they need to return under normal conditions and the children need to know that when it comes to Covid-19, in the word of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). (2020, May 22). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/index.htm

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