7/2: SCHOOL. There has been much discussion and debate about what school will look like next year. Today, Wake county announced that they will have kids in a rotation of 1 week in person/ 2 weeks remote. I expect Chapel hill will shortly follow suit,
Or have some similar hybrid plan. I keep getting asked this question repeatedly from friends — “well, you are a COVID Doctor. What do YOU think about sending your kids back to school”. My answer is my own, deeply personal, and not reflective of my employer. And I recognize and appreciate that many of my colleagues in the same position as me have different views. BUT. Since so many keep asking me, here is my answer, as both a parent and a frontline covid doctor. Do with it as you choose:
My family is electing to remote school next year. The reasons for this are multi-factorial:
-this disease scares the shit out of me. After 4 months caring for covid patients, we certainly know a lot more. But a lot of it isn’t reassuring. Covid is now known to cause lung, heart, kidney, brain, and clotting system complications. And that’s just what we know about the immediate effects. We have no idea — NONE — what the longer term effects might be. I am not willling to risk the health and vitality of my kids to find out what those long term side effects might be
-morbidity vs mortality. I’ve talked about this in prior posts. Yes, very few children actually die of covid. BUT many young people still get very very sick. Intubated. Put on ecmo. Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Kawasaki-like illness with coronary artery aneurysms. These are serious issues with long term effects. Just because covid doesnt kill you; it doesn’t mean you will ever be quite the same either.
-the teachers and staff. My god, how can we ask this of them? After cautiously sheltering in place for months, we are now asking them to basically jump into the lions den and interact with hundreds of children with thousands of household contacts. The more exposure you have, the more risk you have. Trust me, we WILL see teachers and bus drivers and cafeteria workers and other staff — and their family members— who get sick and die.
-I want to continue having my parents involved in my kids life. If we strictly isolate, I feel safe doing so. But If the kids go back to school and interact with dozens of kids from dozens of homes, the risk to my parents increases exponentially.
-I do strongly believe that since we CAN keep our kids home without significant detrimental effects, we SHOULD. There are so, so many people in our community whose lives and careers and finances will be devastated by having to do remote learning. We will not be. We can do so for a year without undue harm to my kids or our careers or our finances. I choose to keep my kids home so that families who absolutely cannot do so have just a little bit more safety at school.
I acknowledge that we are EXTREMELY privileged for me to only work part-time clinically and am able to do my non-clinical work remotely and help home school. And my parents live here and are willing and fully engaged to help us home school during the weeks I absolutely have to be in the hospital.
This seems like a goddamn nightmare for any family with a single parent, two working parents who cannot work from home, families with out extended family support, and families with ESL, kids with IEPs, exceptional children, etc etc.
I have zero answers as to how to make it better. Zero. I don’t want kids falling behind disproportionally because their parents cannot afford to home school or hire tutors. I also don’t want to see kids sick from covid and dead teachers.
Any plan than is less than 100% not in-person seems doomed to only worsen and exacerbate the achievement gap between the haves/have nots.
But — Any plan that involves more in person time also puts kids and teachers more at risk. And these teachers quite frankly do not get paid enough to risk their and their families lives.
I have no answer. It is impossible.
（####Many thanks to this respectaful and honest unknown doctor).