I dropped my son off at school today. As most moms can relate, school looks a bit different these days. Endless car lines flood surrounding streets; there are no buses in sight; teachers stand curbside with their laser-weapon thermometers ready for the testing.
“Have a great day at school, bud,” is now accompanied by, “Where is your mask?” It is a question I still have not grown accustomed to even after all these weeks, and one I hope I never will.
As I inch closer to the drop-off checkpoint, I prepare myself for the protocol that has since replaced a simple hug and kiss goodbye.
“Time to unbuckle yourself,” I say referring to my son’s car seat harness. To meet the drop-off guidelines of our school, no parent is to leave his car under any circumstances. Just another COVID-19 “safety” protocol to overrule everyday common-sense safety norms.
I put my mask on, roll down the back window, and wait for a supervisor to take my son’s temperature. It’s 98.3. He passed. He has permission to attend school today, something that is no longer considered a right, but a privilege granted only under the most restrictive protocols.
He reaches his hands out the window, waiting for his daily dose of hand sanitizer, and waves goodbye as his teacher opens the car door. I can only hope he is smiling under his Spider-Man mask as he gives me one last glance before leaving the car. I catch a glimpse of the other children sitting patiently on the lawn, masks preventing them from breathing in the fresh open air. It’s a disturbing sight.
As I drive away, I can’t help but think about the latest statistics released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and wonder how we got here. According to the CDC, persons aged 0-19 have a COVID-19 survival rate of 99.997 percent. Math was never my strong suit, but if I’m correct, this number makes it highly unlikely that a person under the age of 19 will die from the virus. Isn’t this reason enough to liberate our children from these medical muzzles? “No,” the nay-saying data-deniers will say, “we must protect the teachers.”
I would consider this a good point, if not for two reasons. First, pediatricians from different practices have told me a child’s secretions are not large enough to spread the virus to adults. Second, the average retirement age of teachers is 59 years old, placing them a decade ahead of those most at risk of dying from COVID-19.
In fact, according to the CDC, those aged 20-49 years have a 99.98 percent survival rate, and those aged 50-69 years 99.5 percent. The biggest and most notable exception to this rule is a person battling an underlying condition such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, sickle cell disease, kidney disease, COPD, or cancer. In cases such as these, according to the CDC, additional precautions must indeed be taken to avoid contracting the virus.
Given this new information and data, it seems that children in general are not only not at serious risk from COVID, but they are not the super spreaders they were originally believed to be. Even if they were, just about all healthy teachers aren’t at great risk of dying from COVID-19. Yet our children continue to be muzzled, separated behind a prison cell of Plexiglas, eating lunch alone at their desks, six feet apart from the company of their teachers and their friends.
Are these sacrifices, these infringements upon our civil liberties, these life-altering mandates at the expense of our children and schools worth it? Are they worth it when we know that those most at risk aren’t even likely to be present during a normal school day?
For those parents whose children have an underlying condition, believe me, as a mom of three young children, your worries are not lost on me. Heck, flu outbreaks have been enough to keep me up at night, let alone a mysterious virus our world has never seen the likes of. Your concerns about sending your child off to school are valid and right. In your case, virtual learning may be the best option for your child this year, something most schools are offering.
Yet we can’t shut down schools, mask our children, and keep them from the very things that make school fun, engaging, and warm for the sake of a few outliers, especially when other learning alternatives are available to those who are most at risk. Any parent who does not feel comfortable sending his or her child to school should not have to and should opt for virtual learning at this time. That is your prerogative and your choice as a parent.
But for those who look at the data and realize that the flu is more deadly to children than COVID-19; for those who understand that driving your children to school poses a bigger risk than dying from this virus; for those who understand that every day is a gift not to be taken for granted because anything can happen, I hear you and want to fight alongside you to take back our power as parents.
This is America after all. Let’s show our children what that truly means and push back against power-hungry state governments enforcing these unprecedented, unconstitutional state mandates on our lives and schools. Let’s choose to raise our children in a world where fear is not the permanent emotion whirling through their minds — before it’s too late.
I refuse to be a complicit participant in this unrecognizable world another day. My children, our children, are depending on us to free them of these COVID chokeholds. We all have a choice, and staying silent is one I am no longer willing to make.