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Coronavirus finally proves that teachers are essential

Esther J. Cepeda on

But the plans truly do hinge on being able to provide medical-grade masks for school health professionals and nonmedical-grade masks for everyone else. They also rely on the ability to disinfect schools on a regular basis, provide hand-washing and sanitizing stations for students and teachers, and have strict protocols in place to test, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19 quickly.

That seems implausible even for schools in well-financed districts, and it reads like fiction for the kinds of schools I've taught in. I've worked in low-income schools where the sinks in the classrooms don't work, the water in parts of the school contain unacceptably high levels of lead, and the soap in the students' bathroom has been taken away because the dispensers have been broken and abused too many times by misbehaving kids.

As a teacher, I want school to open back up as soon as possible. I'm even hoping there's summer school for those who want or need it in order to be able to succeed in the fall.

But it's going to take a lot of money to prepare school districts, particularly those at the lower income levels, for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Especially when you take into account that public health experts think that a critical mass of COVID-19 cases will re-emerge in the fall.

The question is: Will those who have the power to provide the money needed to open up schools safely believe that they are investing in students, teachers and education -- or in daycare?

 

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Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com or follow her on Twitter @estherjcepeda.

(c) 2020, Washington Post Writers Group

 

 

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