Three hours, forty three minutes and thirteen seconds. That’s the duration the unpaid moms and dads on our district’s school board spent at last week’s meeting. They all have regular jobs, which are stressful and are parents, which is stressful. They are facing all the challenges of Covid. And they spend hours each week trying to sort it out for all of us.
This shouldn’t be happening. They have neither the resources, qualifications or in some cases authority to make the decisions that are being asked of them. School board President David Grande recently wrote,
Amid a huge surge in COVID-19, staying open is the greatest challenge facing local school leaders today. What makes the challenge even more difficult is the complete absence of any national leadership or policy to support schools. Nearly all decisions have been punted to local leaders with little guidance, limited funding and grossly inadequate access to testing.
It goes further than Dr. Grande states though. Every level of government is failing the level below it. One of the issues that consumed much of the 3 hours and 43 minute meeting of the school board was winter sports. Several parents spoke about their desire for winter sports like wrestling to resume. The board was faced with making a decision. But why? They are not public health experts, they are tasked with overseeing the education of children. I’m told that only after the meeting did the Chester County Health Department make the call and suspend winter sports (and then allow practice in small numbers) for the time being.
Because of the recent surge in Covid cases, the state advised school districts in places with high case counts, like DelCo, to go to online learning. But they allowed districts to sign an attestation that they were taking sufficient measures to protect students. Instead of the state, which has vastly more resources, making the decision they left it to our unpaid, overworked school district members. Meanwhile the state legislature remains paralyzed by Republicans unwilling to take action to lessen the impact of the pandemic even as they move forward on legislation allowing autonomous robots on sidewalks. As for the Feds, Dr. Grande’s piece I think covers the multitude of failures there so I won’t repeat what he had to say.
2020 has been a stressful year full of challenges. Some WSSD has met and others its failed at. But as the district addresses those challenges, it should be recognized that the task set for them is already Herculean, and our local officials have been granted none of Zeus’s divine strength. Before making further demands, the community should recognize what is already being asked of our local officials.