Your Sept. 7 editorial, “Approach virtual schooling with care,” asserts that the risk of returning to in-person schooling is low because “children remain very unlikely to get seriously ill or die.” For many parents, especially those like us who have children who are at high risk from COVID-19, this statistical assurance is cold comfort. It also ignores recent developments caused by the more contagious Delta variant. During the last week of August alone, more than 250,000 US children contracted COVID, representing more than a quarter of new cases. Schools across the country have been closing due to outbreaks of the coronavirus.
For 18 months, families across the Commonwealth worked in partnership with teachers to keep kids healthy and safe while allowing them to stay connected to their peers and school community. It was incredibly challenging, but we did it. According to the Boston Public Schools’ own data, many families still want a remote option, including a higher percentage in the disability community and communities of color, which have borne a disparate burden from the virus.
Last week, our 7-year-old told us she had a scary dream in which students were sitting too close together in the classroom. We share her fears, which are only heightened due to her history of pulmonary disease. Like countless other parents, we must now decide between putting her in harm’s way or losing her seat at the school where she has been loved and well supported since she was 3. This is a cruel choice to force on parents, especially given that it rests on the false premise that kids are not in real danger from COVID.
Roy Karp and Courtney Feeley Karp
The writers are founding members of MA Parents for Remote Learning Options.