New Bedford Schools Must Re-Open in the Fall [OPINION]
Remote learning and mass homeschooling are a disaster and our public officials need to focus on reopening classrooms for our kids this fall. Safely restarting the education process has to be among our primary concerns right now, not micromanaging local businesses.
Dr. Tony Fauci, a top advisor to the White House on the coronavirus crisis, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment is unlikely to be available before the start of the fall semester, which he said could put returning students at risk.
"If this were a situation where you had a vaccine, that would really be the end of the issue in a positive way,” Fauci said. “But as I mentioned in my opening remarks, even at the top speed we’re going, we don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term.”
President Donald Trump believes that our kids need to get back to school as quickly as possible. Trump disagrees with Dr. Fauci, who wants to delay the start of the school year and told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo it can be done safely with proper planning.
"We have to get the schools open, we have to get our country open, we have to open our country. Now we want to do it safely, but we also want to do it as quickly as possible, we can't keep going on like this," Trump said. "You're having bedlam already in the streets, you can't do this. We have to get it open. I totally disagree with him on schools.”
Dr. Fuaci is an expert on infectious diseases but as Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) stated at Tuesday's hearing, Fauci is not the "end all" when it comes to setting coronavirus policy. There is no one-size-fits-all policy that can be applied to the entire nation. The virus has impacted different areas in different ways.
Here in Massachusetts, rather than dictating how Betty Lou can re-open her coffee shop and when the faithful can be permitted to return to church, Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Jon Mitchell need to be focused on re-opening our schools this fall so that our kids can resume their education. Delaying a return to school is akin to stealing time and opportunity from our kids. It's unfair, it's wrong and it's unnecessary.
Staggered schedules and extended hours including evenings and weekends should be considered in planning for the re-opening of our schools safely and should be considered. Betty Lou is intelligent enough to figure out how to re-open her coffee shop safely and Bishop Da Cunha can figure out social distancing in church. Our kids need to get back to school and that's where the attention of our elected officials should be focused right now.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.