The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has put out guidelines for schools reopening.
There was confusion floating around because of a blue “here we go” meme that had simplified the guidelines and freaked everyone (- including myself) out.
This is the “here we go” CDC Guidelines meme:
Obviously, this meme was not put out by the CDC itself.
If you are a parent – and especially, if you are the parent of a child who participates in a special education program – it is worth your while to thoroughly read and have an understanding of what the actual guidelines put forth by the CDC are all about.
Please go to the website itself and read the guidelines. It’s linked here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html
The first (“here we go”) meme is a condensed, simplified piece of what is on the CDC website. It is condensed and simplified but it is not pulled out of thin air or completely made up. I think it’s important to recognize that, as there is a second wave of “oh, that’s completely inaccurate” when it is NOT, in fact, completely inaccurate.
The CDC School Guidelines are Sensible
Everything on there seems to be safe and sensible when read in the context that a global pandemic is happening.
Have desks be 6 feet apart? Use face masks? Don’t share your stuff? Avoid interaction with others? YES; all of these are sensible either in or recovering from a pandemic.
The problem I think lies in the fact that the American educational system is fundamentally broken.
It doesn’t have money.
This was an issue long before the pandemic; heck, this has been issue for as long as I’ve been alive!
And now this has blown out of control with a pandemic.
How are schools going to even remotely put in place the CDC guidelines?
How can a school physically separate the kids to the degree recommended?
How can all of the supplies be cleaned to that extent, no sharing enforced, separate school meals, etc?
The school buses?! Did you read that one?!
The CDC does not have ownership over schools and their guidance is “best practice.”
The fact remains that implementing most of these guidelines is virtually impossible given the school budgets and existing demands of most districts.Since it's virtually impossible to implement CDC best practices, I think we should be asking whether or not it's wise to reopen schools at all at this time.
From the Special Education Standpoint
How on earth would kids who require touch learn in an environment that is so distanced and separated? What about social interaction for the kids who need it, and learning by example, integrated learning? What about toys, materials?
As a parent of a child with Down syndrome (- Moxie), and parent of a highly social butterfly (- Mack), I literally have no idea how these guidelines could be set in place for them.
“They Are “Just” Recommendations”
This isn’t about the CDC going overboard and over-recommending anything, and I think us parents in the disability community really need to be cautious about mitigating or downplaying these guidelines into “suggestions” or “just recommendations.”
The CDC Guidelines are not “just” recommendations.
We have a global pandemic happening right now, and we do not know yet the full effects of COVID-19. We don’t know the full scope of how it affects children- we only know that we were wrong in thinking that it doesn’t affect children too badly.
I think all of this coupled together: our kids respective disabilities, the underfunding of schools in general, the systemic brokenness of our educational system, the unknowns of the pandemic and its effect on children = means that we might be wise to be exploring our homeschooling options for the coming year, and seeing what else makes sense for us and our kids.
But let’s not let these recommendations slide into a pile of “lets just ignore this because it’s impossible to put in place with schools as they are now,” or tempting though it might be, the pile of “lets pretend this is going to work because I really REALLY (REALLY!) need a break from my kids now.”
And on the flip side, we really need to be vigilant about the ways in which our kid’s schools are going to interpret and implement these guidelines. Fully implemented, they could have long-lasting (and usually negative) effects on our children. Partially implemented or not implemented at all could likewise have serious effects on children, in that they could contract coronavirus.
And I thought I was already tired.
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Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.