School age children and their parents are facing multiple issues and making difficult decisions as schools officials, school board members, and teachers’ unions wreak havoc with their schedules and learning environments. As a result, many students are falling behind and many parents are struggling to keep up with all of it.
It seems every week, the news is filled with headlines related to school openings, school closings, and teacher “sick outs.” Rarely do we hear from the families that are affected by the decisions reflected in the headlines.
Those families are facing the hard choice of keeping their jobs to support their families or losing their jobs to stay home and teach their children. Many parents are feeling hopeless and see themselves in a lose-lose situation, especially single parents.
Parents are also getting frustrated at the lack of consistency. While school unions claim its unsafe to return to in person school, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Fauci doesn’t agree.
“The default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school or to get them back to school.” Stated the controversial but always overly cautious Fauci, “If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected.”
So why then are schools not opening? Many teachers are refusing to go back into the classroom and with the pre-existing teacher shortage already in high demand its putting school district administrators, parents and students in a rough position.
While parents are trying to be positive and agreeable, the schools are providing little support. According to Melissa, the teachers seem to be more lenient when it comes to assignment deadlines, but that is about it. outside of that. Melissa, like countless other parents, is certain her kids aren’t learning as much as they usually would if they were in school.
Katie, a single mom, had to make a very difficult choice. Without her kids in school, she would have had to pay for daycare, paying out more than she earned in the collapsing service industry.
Katie has decided on homeschooling for now, saying she felt like the pandemic was being treated as more of a political issue then a community safety issue.
According to care.com childcare cost averaged $215 a week in 2019, or $10,320 annually. Paying for a nanny is averaged $565 a week in 2019, or $27,120 annually. Creating an impossible situation for parents that need to work outside of their household.
After school programs have also been placed on hold during the pandemic making it even more stressful on parents and creating a negative effect on children’s mental health.
According to teachersforopenschools.com, “students are experiencing many increased risks: up to 14 months of learning loss; food insecurity rates have doubled from 18% to 35%; emergency department visits related to mental health have increased 24 percent for children aged 5-11 and have spike 31 percent among adolescents aged 12-17.”
Instead of the focus being on providing the best and safest education to students, schools seem comfortable leaving many unanswered questions while keeping school doors closed.
Arizona’s legislators have a lot on their plates with this week’s start of the new session. Yet while many are focused on financially strapped small businesses, election integrity issues, and getting schools reopened, Senator Kirsten Engel is concerned about paper and plastic bags.
At issue are the kind of bags used by thousands of people every day along with other types of “auxiliary containers” such as cans, bottles, boxes, and cups to take merchandise or food from a business. But those businesses could be forced to come up with new options if a bill introduced by Engel, a Democrat from Tucson, passes.
Engel is the sponsor of SB1132, which seeks to repeal ARS § 9-500.38, the state law which prohibits cities and towns from regulating auxiliary containers. The bill has not yet had its First Read during the new legislative session.
In 2016, the Arizona Legislature deemed the regulation of the use and disposition of auxiliary containers to be a matter of statewide concern. There is nothing on Engel’s website explaining why she believes it is important to allow every city or town to set its own container rules.
But the result, especially for companies with stores or restaurants in multiple cities or towns across Arizona, would likely be chaos, as well as higher costs. For instance, without ARS § 9-500.38, it would be possible for a Target store in Tucson to be prohibited from utilizing single-use plastic bags, while the Target store in Sierra Vista has no such restriction.
Or a grocery store in Florence could be forced to use paper bags constructed of a certain percentage of recycled products while a store for the same chain in Flagstaff could be required to use bags with a different percent.
The owner of several restaurant franchises in Pima County was surprised to find a Tucson-area senator pushing for the change.
“This is not a business friendly bill,” he said. “It seems like someone hasn’t thought this through very well, or just doesn’t want Arizona to be business-friendly.”
Despite ARS § 9-500.38, the City of Bisbee changed its city code in 2016 to ban retail businesses from utilizing single-use plastic bags. The city code included a fine of up to $500 per violation.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich was asked at the time by Sen. Warren Petersen to investigate the city’s code. In October 2017, Brnovich issued an opinion that the code conflicted with -and thus violated- state law, the same law Engel now seeks to do away with.
CHANDLER — On Monday, parents of over 46,000 Chandler school students were sent scrambling after Chandler Unified School District leaders opted to return to virtual learning. Students were expected to return to in-person learning on Tuesday.
Those plans changed in response to statements made by Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman that the schools were not safe last week.
Hoffman has been accused of fear mongering. Critics say her claims are baseless due to the fact that there is no evidence that young students are super-spreaders of the COVID-19 virus. In fact, the Centers For Disease Control have urged state officials to open school doors.
Parents urged district officials on Monday to follow through with the in-person learning plans. However, their pleas were not only ignored, the governing board voted to lower the threshold for the percent of positive cases on a campus that will trigger future returns to virtual learning.