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Safer to stay out of schools for now

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Children are social beings and need to be in school — safely. If there were a possibility that something bad could happen to one of your children or grandchildren, you would do anything to protect them from going through it if you could. We are in a time when our world is ever changing and we must protect our children.

Yolande Barial

Fingerprint and background checks are mandated for all who work around children to ensure that they do not have anything untoward in their past that could affect the safety of the children. We require car seats, prevent kids of certain heights from riding roller coasters and have an entire social service department assigned to protect children from child abuse. Vaccinations are mandated for children to go to school and, with some exceptions, that mandate is adhered to by parents. Vaccines are given as safeguards to prevent children from getting deadly illnesses. Where is the vaccine for COVID-19? And if there is no vaccine, why are we tippy-toeing past this mandate and demanding children attend school where there is no safeguard to protect them or the adults with whom they come in contact? Do we cultivate our children in the petri dish of the schoolhouse and watch the microorganism of this virus grow or do we take a pause until we can figure things out?

A petri dish allows the scientist to see the location of contamination on its agar surface. Could this surface be our children? Will we watch the contamination grow or will we parent and protect? We all want our children to go back to school. No one wants that more than a parent! We want them to thrive and grow in social skills and educational pursuits. Our children want to go back to school. And yet, if they go back, can children, teachers, administrators and safety staff be assured that there are safeguards in place to protect them? Most kids in our state have the benefit of access to remote learning. However, there are some throughout the country that might be required to go to a building. Social distancing and masks should be mandated throughout the country, and yet they are not mandated in all states. Children cannot vote, do not work, have no money, and depend on adults for their daily protection and for their lives. We are living in stressful times, and if adults are overwhelmed, imagine what kind of stress our children are experiencing.

How do we manage during this time of complete and utter confusion? If you ask 500 people, you will get at least 500 responses. Can we teach in the park, in the high school stadium, on the soccer field or on the baseball field? Will there be money invested into the school districts throughout the country to be able to clean the schools more frequently and more thoroughly? Is there enough protective equipment for all who work in the schools? Will there be testing on campus, and will the government assist or just demand that already strapped states bear this crisis without the benefit of assistance?

What is clear for me is that we must not experiment on the blessing that each one of us has been given in our children. We must give them a chance to thrive and not experiment with their health and safety as if they were being cultivated in a petri dish.

Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to tpletters@tracypress.com.

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