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A friend recently reminded me of the quote from St. Katherine Drexel, “Press forward and fear nothing.” So in that spirit, I write this for my daughter. Because she deserves better. And because if I don’t speak up on her behalf, I am afraid no one will.
This is for you, S.
Dear Sonoma City Council,
My 7th-grade daughter has not stepped foot on her campus for 11 months. Along with the majority of students in our county, she has spent each day sitting in front of a computer screen for nearly a year. Think about that, an entire year and still no opening date on the calendar.
You can eat at a restaurant, book a hotel/vacation here, get a facial, highlight your hair, get your nails done, go wine tasting, shop at Costco and Target with hundreds of other people, go to the mall, but children cannot get an education. Despite the findings by the Journal of American Medical Association revealing the devastating effects of school closures on children’s well-being, or the CDC’s extensive study showing little to no spread of the virus on school campuses, we remain closed. Also, we now have numerous examples of schools K-12 in other states and countries that have successfully been fully open for months. Dr. Daria Gillespie shared a study finding spread among an entire community is less, when kids are on campus. The study concludes, “rates of illness when they are in school are lower than rates of illness when they are out, suggesting that children and communities may be at lower risk to COVID due to mitigation measures and behavioral changes when children are in school.”
Who is advocating for our kids? I am disappointed at the lack of willingness and urgency by our local leadership to advocate and speak up on behalf of the voiceless in our community. If the experts are even 10% right, we are looking at a total crisis in areas of literacy, abuse, depression, anxiety, social-emotional growth, and life span—just to name a few. While surrounding counties return to campus, and states like Texas, Tennessee, and Florida never stopped attending school, our kids will be uniquely behind and will be at a disadvantage when compared to their peers outside of our county. And eventually, they will be asked to compete against them for spots in high schools, colleges, and beyond.
How can our local leaders stay silent while we are failing our children so deeply? You might not have jurisdiction over school closures, but that does not mean you do not have any influence. In fact, the council has a history approving agenda items in which they have no jurisdiction. For example, the most recent addition of a resolution on single-payer healthcare in California. And yet you choose to stay silent on one of the most crucial issues facing our valley and one your influence might matter in: the staggering and dangerous outcome of school closure on our children.
For the sake of every child who is home suffering, I urge you, instead of using city time voting on your opinions on healthcare, please prioritize the urgency of reopening the schools. Vote on a resolution supporting all resources that can be, to be directed to the reopening of schools in Sonoma. I call on you to sound the alarm that our children are in a state of emergency. We cannot wait any longer, it is already too late.
Allison SebastianiPublished in