As a father, my main focus is to provide a safe environment for my children to thrive. As my wife and I maneuver through the historic COVID-19 pandemic, we have the difficult decision to make, as thousands of parents do: What do we do about the school year?
As the school year gets closer, the anxiety levels increase because of the unknown factors surrounding the spread of the coronavirus. Many of the school systems have not risen to the challenge in effectively communicating to parents a plan of action that focuses on the safety of their children. Our daughter is scared to go to school because she doesn't want to get sick. As a parent, how do you roll the dice with your child's health? Unfortunately, there are thousands of parents who, even if offered the opportunity, cannot participate in virtual learning.
Our daughter told my wife last week that she did not want to go to school and catch coronavirus because there is so much she wants to do in life. Regardless of your view of the virus, that has to touch you in some way, as it did to us. My wife did her best to ease our daughter's concerns, but in her mind, she knew my daughter brought up a valid point. Are we sending our children to school to get sick and possibly die?
There was a flurry of emotions when I heard about this conversation. Once again, as a father, it is my duty to provide, and I am helpless to provide a safe school environment for my children unless I keep them at home, away from their teachers and friends. I would be heartbroken if something happened to my children as a result of my sending them back to school too early.
Some may think concerned parents are being alarmists, but that is our right. When data is used for political gain or pain in an election year, it is important to review, challenge, question, and think twice about the information regarding the readiness of school openings.
As lives are at stake, did your child's school system do everything it could to ease your concerns? Why can't all schools set up social distancing classrooms and be creative about where to locate students? Why hasn't the government provided social distance blueprints for classrooms? Why can't most districts start classes in September or October, to ensure there is a better plan in place to provide a safe environment? Yes, school is valuable and needed for children, but so is a healthy body.
2020's national medical emergency should be a unifying disaster, but it has further divided America. The 9/11 terrorist attacks unified American against a common enemy. There was division, but there was still unification. America needs to unify for the sake of our most valuable treasure: our children.
Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co., which produces Toasted Wine Fruit Spreads. He is also an author, his first book being "The Absent Father."