Sunday, June 20

An Educator’s View: Reopening schools is giving in to political pressure

It is my opinion that during the 2020-’21 school year, kindergarten through 12th-grade students will not be able to learn safely in school buildings. So students can learn safely, all Minnesota school buildings must be completely closed to students.

We know how dangerous the coronavirus can be. We know how the virus is spreading. To keep our students safe, they need to be guided by adults who care for them, adults whose main concern is to protect the health of children.

I read in the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan document that Gov. Tim Walz “is requiring school districts and charter schools to ensure all families have the option to choose distance learning for their students throughout the school year.”

Under the Walz plan, here’s a sample of what I believe will happen. Some students will attend school. Some students will stay home. It won’t be long before those stay-at-home students will want to be in school with their friends, and they will do everything they can to change their parents’ minds about distance learning. And if you have children, you know how adept kids are at getting their way.

Giving parents the option to choose distance learning for their children is not the way to show a real concern for children. I believe Gov. Walz and his cohorts are trying to distance themselves from responsibility by having parents make the decision to educate students either at home or in a school. Then if the student who is attending school becomes ill, it’s the parents’ fault, not the governor’s.

I also read in the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan document that, “As a classroom teacher for more than 20 years and a parent of a child in public schools, Governor Walz is committed to providing the best education to our students while keeping them and their teachers safe.”

Gov. Walz, your decision to give families the option to have their children go to school or stay at home is not going to keep Minnesota’s students and teachers safe.

I was a classroom teacher for more than 30 years, and if I were the governor, my decision to close schools would not be based upon politics. It would be based upon a genuine concern for the safety of our students.

Close the schools, Gov. Walz.

Joe Legueri of Gilbert is a writer, lifelong Iron Range resident, regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page, and retired educator who taught English and college writing to grades 7-12 for 35 years at Biwabik and Mesabi East schools.

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