I want to talk about my daughter. BTW – I’m talking tonight with her permission. She’s 15. And she’s got anxiety. It was manageable – until COVID. But COVID and starting high school changed everything.
She’s also asthmatic. We all are actually. But my daughter, when she was young, was severely so. Hospitalized twice for asthma infections – one of those was possible H1N1. We remember what it was like to have doctors and nurses treat her not just masked and gloved, but hazmat suits. Somewhere inside that 15-year-old anxious girl, lives the four year little girl who remembers that too.
Masks – and understanding the policies and procedures that keep her safe – are the one thing that allows her to try to attend school. Knowing that the adults around her are making decisions based on science and our collective welfare – that allows her a tiny bit of freedom to breathe.
Your decisions – the Superintendent, School Administration, and even the support of the Board, have made it possible for her to get through and attend school. We are grateful for the consistent communication from Mr. Fiege and Cassie Butler that showed us the decisions and choices they were making to ensure the safety of our children and their teachers.
Sometimes you just hear from the “squeaky” wheels. I wish I had spoken sooner. We stand in support of the decisions at each step taken by the school administration to take care of kids and explain as best as they could to parents struggling to understand it all themselves.
As the year closes, we, as a family, are counting on you to continue to use science and the best recommendations of public health officials to guide your decision making as we believe you have done all long.
We believe the science behind vaccinations is safe and effective. We welcome the message from the CDC that fully vaccinated people can CHOOSE not to wear their mask.
We, however, will CHOOSE, to mask in group settings. Why? Because in a pandemic, public health officials tell us, precautions are universal to protect those made most vulnerable, even if I or my daughter, may have greater protection. Precautions like masking, create a culture of protection for those still at risk. It is a measure of respect and belief in our shared responsibilities to each other.
There are children – teens – who haven’t caught COVID, like my daughter, who nevertheless will live with the impact of a world-wide pandemic all her life. How we teach them to care and respond to their fellow human beings matters – whether they are here in Prescott or as far away as South Africa.
In our rush to “make it normal” for our kids, let’s remember something – this isn’t normal. Nor can it be.
There’s no amount of pretending that keeps them away from the news of a worldwide pandemic where just over 3.4M people have died of this illness. More people continue to be hospitalized and die daily. The pandemic is on-going. Getting better, yes. But on-going.
And countless more people have long term health impacts that science is only starting to understand – including some personal friends who had no preexisting conditions and were healthy and fit. Before they got COVID.
It’s no surprise COVID makes our daughter’s anxiety go through the roof. And I know she – and we are not alone.
The COVID 19 Pandemic continues. With the uncertainty of variants and long term health impact, my children have a right to feel safe and protected in their school and by the adults in their lives.
I want you to hear our story tonight, because even though we are quiet and private about our daughter’s issues, we are important too. Your decisions and responses to the pandemic made it easier for our daughter and other children. They matter too and we are grateful for the adherence to national public health guidance shown by the Prescott School District.
Science and public health are our best weapons against fear and anxiety and yes, against COVID. Honor kids like my daughter – and the teachers and staff who work day in and day out by continuing to use them.
Edit for my blog: The CDC has a page devoted to schools – including separate recommendations for schools for the 2020-21 school year that are different – because schools have a variety of ages of people at unknown risk factors.