Parents Who Keep Their Children At Home Are Facing the Consequences
Alicia Shannon, a Columbus, Ohio, mother of two middle schoolers, has been homeschooling her children since the start of the school year. A lack of vaccine mandates in her state’s schools and a lack of knowledge about the consequences of extended COVID, particularly in young people, are two of Shannon’s key worries. Shannon thought she was making the best decision for her children’s health by keeping them away from in-person schooling, but it seems the government disagreed. A letter from the principal of Shannon’s children’s school was sent to her on September 30. The letter, which was provided to Teen Vogue, states that your child’s absences are “excessive” under Ohio law. Accordingly, this letter must be delivered to tell you that your kid has met or exceeded these restrictions under the State of Ohio Truancy Law.
Shannon is at a loss as a result of the letter. Said she felt “dejected” to Teen Vogue. More fear and mistrust are generated by this type of response from my children’s schools. If they’re willing to sacrifice children in order to save money, then so be it. Columbus Public Schools was contacted by Teen Vogue for comment.
When Shannon’s children were absent from school because of COVID-19, she was one of many parents who were penalized by their child’s school or their local government. In response to their decision to keep their children home from school without permission, some DCPS parents claim the district has taken efforts to report them to Washington DC’s Child and Family Services Agency for “educational neglect.” According to data from the Administration for Children’s Services, the New York City Department of Education had received 207 reports of educational neglect as of October 31. (ACS.)
Tajh Sutton, a member of Parents for Responsible, Equitable and Safe Schools (PRESS) in New York City, says that parents around the country face comparable challenges when electing to keep their children out of in-person education. As Sutton said to Teen Vogue, “Around the end of October and beginning of November we saw hundreds of ACS cases being held against families for what they called ‘educational neglect.'”
A child welfare investigation can have a significant impact on already traumatized families, she says. “Charges can linger on records for decades, future career chances might be harmed, and most alarmingly, parents could be taken from their children.”
The Sutton family and other New York City families have been coordinating since March 2020 to ensure the safety of their children’s schools in the event of a pandemic. Students and teachers who want to learn in a traditional classroom but are concerned about their safety should have the option of doing so remotely, according to the group’s top priority. Aside from making sure that kids and instructors who have been exposed to COVID are properly quarantined, PRESS members have also fought for adequate ventilation in classrooms.
NYC PUBLIC SCHOOLS has promised us air conditioning and ventilation, but it’s not occurring in many low-income communities of color,” said Sutton. There have been cases when classrooms have been left to freeze over because schools have simply opened their windows. Students should not have to wear jackets and gloves to school, and teachers should not have to spend their own money on space heaters.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) mother Cortney Ritsema considered the COVID safety precautions at her children’s schools objectionable and kept all three of them home until they were old enough to receive vaccinations. Contagiousness and immunization eligibility for all three of her children were two of her main worries about the Delta variation. As per the CPS manual, Ritsema sent an email to the school requesting that the students’ absences be excused due to “reasonable concern for their health and safety. A call from the principal informed Ritsema that her children had been dropped from the school, despite the fact that they had been given two days of excused absences.
This whole experience has urged us as parents to take significant risks with our children for the sake of opening the economy and “returning to normal,” and Ritsema told Teen Vogue: “I am not willing to sacrifice my children’s health for the economy.” In order to better care for our children’s mental and physical health, the government should provide financial assistance to parents. As a result, we are being told what is best for our children, what we should feel safe about, and punished if we don’t comply. ” After repeated appeals, Ritsema was able to get her children back into school, according to emails obtained by Teen Vogue. A request for comment was made by Teen Vogue to Chicago Public Schools.
Despite the fact that remote learning has its own set of difficulties, especially for students who are neurodivergent, learning English as a second language, or otherwise marginalized, many students prefer to learn at home because they feel more secure. Sutton argues that schools should provide students and teachers with a range of options, including the ability for kids who prefer to learn at home to do so, as well as children who prefer classroom education. Sutton contends that this dual strategy could reduce in-person class sizes, allowing for better social distancing in a classroom, which could delay the growth of COVID.
Sutton remarked that “people keep claiming that kids need to be in class in order to learn, yet learning is not occurring right now since everyone is worried.” Do you think you can learn when half of your classmates are absent, half of the teachers are sick, your friend is in the hospital, your aunt has COVID, and you refuse to eat lunch because you don’t want to remove your mask?” It is imperative that we have a remote learning alternative until we are able to securely operate schools at full capacity and that won’t happen unless we implement radically different health measurements.”
Ultimately, parents are pushing for schools to treat their children’s physical and mental health as seriously as their educational demands. In general, Shannon’s children are afraid of what is occurring with the virus, because they’ve been watching new versions drop like Jordans. When it comes to putting them in the classroom, “those seeking to do so are more concerned with a problem of tomorrow than my kids are with making it to tomorrow.”