The CDC recently posted new guidelines for schools reopening in the wake of COVID-19, whether in the next few weeks or few months, and the reactions are overwhelmingly negative.
“It sounds like prison!” many parents angrily comment on social media. “No way am I allowing my child access to that kind of socialist control!”
That is what makes your child’s school sound like prison? Not the forced isolation in rooms, and limited socialization? Not the penalization for talking out of turn? Not the mediocre food served on styrofoam trays? Not the complete elimination of constitutional rights once enrolled?
No one knows just how much schools will be expected to observe these guidelines as they reopen. No one knows what it will look like, but it’s sure to be different across states (Wyoming schools, for instance, will implement things far differently than, say, New York), and even across counties. But if these guidelines are what convinces parents that schools are indeed prisons for children, they’ve served an even greater purpose than promoting social distancing.
A Massachusetts kindergartener was rushed to the hospital last Thursday after he admitted to teachers that he tasted the contents of the bag he brought to school. Inside the bag, which was stamped with superhero markings, contained a white powder that was later confirmed to be heroin.
Benny Garcia, 29, was arrested later that day, after he was found asleep in his home with 170 bags of heroin around him, as well as bags of cocaine. He’s plead “not guilty” to drug possession and reckless endangerment of a child, when he was arraigned on Friday. The 5-year-old, and an infant sibling, have since been removed from the home. Garcia is being held without bail pending a hearing on November 20.
H.B. Lawrence Elementary School, in Holyoke, MA, is part of Holyoke School District, and serves 285 students in grades K-3. A large majority (91%) of the student population is Hispanic, and 78% of all students qualify as from low-income families. According to GreatSchools, standardized test scores in both reading and math fall way below the state average. The school itself is small and outdated, desperately in need of updating and repairs. The community recently voted down an initiative (which included a property tax increase) to build new schools and take the pressure off some of the smaller, struggling schools.
Children in a Philadelphia charter school have been consuming water from drinking fountains with astronomically high levels of lead, possibly for years, and parents are only now becoming aware of the issue.
Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School, which serves approximately 750 students in grades K-8, (of whom nearly 100% are black and fall below the poverty level) has had issues with its water for over 15 years, but nothing has been done aside from occasionally taking the affected fountains out of rotation for a while. Parents were finally notified of the issue recently, and they are understandably upset.
The most recent tests on drinking fountains at the school, conducted by the district in compliance with a new city ordinance, showed water concentration levels of lead that reached upwards of 3500 ppb (parts per billion); the accepted maximum is around 10 ppb, although most medical professionals will agree that there is no amount of lead that should be acceptable in drinking water. All this while teachers report that there have been, for an untold number of years, special coolers with water designated for the teachers, because on some level it was understood that the fountains did not deliver water that was acceptable to drink.
Consuming high levels of lead, especially in children, has been attributed to lower IQ scores, increased incidence of ADHD, and other developmental and behavioral problems. The FDA sets the standard for lead concentration of drinking water at 5 ppb, while the EPA remains more conservative at 15 ppb.
Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School is among 18 schools in the Philadelphia area operated by Mastery Charter School. The building itself was built in 1938, and until 2010 was under control by the School District of Philadelphia. As early as 2000, however, drinking water tests at the school have shown lead levels higher than what is deemed acceptable, and have consistently been swept under the rug.
The district admits that the maintenance backlog is so extensive that fixing the problem just isn’t possible, citing other issues in crumbling Philadelphia schools such as HVAC malfunctions, asbestos, and chipping paint.
On Frederick Douglass’s home page a quote from a parent features prominently:
“I just love the communication between
the parents and the teachers and the school.”
-Yonita Martin, Mastery Parent
One has to wonder if this parent is now eating their words, after realizing the school has been keeping parents in the dark about their children’s health and safety for years.
Test scores, perhaps unsurprisingly, rank low compared to state averages, with just 22% demonstrating language arts proficiency (compared with Pennsylvania’s 63%) and 7% demonstrating math proficiency (compared with Pennsylvania’s 46%).
‘Help me understand why this is justifiable’ — From leaking roofs to lead-coated pipes to insulation covered with asbestos, here’s what it’s like inside some of Philadelphia’s crumbling public schools pic.twitter.com/l8izsmPYvs
At least a dozen people, mostly children, were hospitalized for eye irritation and breathing difficulties following the discharge of what could possibly have been pepper spray during a dance at G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School in Lehigh Acres, Florida Friday night, with at least four people removed from the school on stretchers. A large triage center was set up outside of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, where even more people were being examined.
Investigations are under way to determine the exact nature of the irritant, as well as its method of disbursement, considering the fact that when someone employs the use of pepper spray, it usually isn’t to incapacitate more than one or two people.
The dance in question was the school’s “Friendship Dance,” in which both students and parents were in attendance.
G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School serves approximately 800 children in grades K through fifth, in Lehigh Acres, Florida. Multiple investigations into its standing compared with other schools in Florida have yielded very low scores. It does, however, boast great diversity, with an estimated 61% Hispanic, 18% white, and 18% African American student population, which has increased in recent years, along with overall student enrollment. The school, housed in a renovated K-Mart building, was founded in 2010.