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Guest Column: Governor should allow kids to go back to school in person

N.M. Sen. Craig Brandt

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with a report recommending guidelines for school reopening.

In short, they recommend kids go back to school in person. Why isn’t our governor listening?

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made every decision without input from the people most affected.

She has closed businesses, and forced the layoff of over 100,000 workers. Hundreds of those businesses are closed for good, and thousands of jobs are gone forever.

Her administration kicked senior citizens out of their nursing home with less than 24 hours’ notice to make room for more lucrative residents – without their consent! She has decimated our economy and ruined lives without regard for the long-term consequences of her decisions.

The new school year is here and she is doubling down, but our children will pay the price.

Why would the AAP tell us to send kids back to school? Studies have shown that COVID-19 is less dangerous than the flu to children, and closing schools last spring was detrimental to their well-being.

When doctors are telling you something and a politician is telling you the opposite, it should be a no-brainer who to listen to. Lujan Grisham claims science drives her every decision, but she is ignoring the science.

Just last week Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said, “One of the nuances we’re learning from doing the reading is that what actually increases spread is not the kids going to school; it’s that the parents are now free with their kids in school to go out and about, have more contacts, go to stores – you know, go back to work, for example, in person, rather than working from home.”

In other words, they are keeping kids out of school because it allows parents to work and live their lives. Using children to control their parents is outrageous at best and scandalous at worst.

The governor’s hybrid school model will result in children going without in-person instruction three days a week. Working parents will not be home to help with “remote learning,” or they will be forced to quit their jobs.

One in five, mostly poor and minority children, who don’t have a computer or internet access will be completely out of luck.

How long will it take to recover from a full year of lost instruction? How many high school students will drop out of school?

How much further behind will our children drop in national rankings; can we do worse than 50?

We should allow families concerned with getting sick to go with an all-online model. That would reduce class sizes.

Online instruction discriminates against poor and rural families, so give them the option to put their children in school five days a week. This solves every problem (including the Martinez/Yazzie Lawsuit) and is consistent with what pediatricians are saying.

Parents should have some say in their children’s well-being and education. It’s time for the governor to listen to parents, doctors and science, and do what is best for our kids.

(N.M. Sen. Craig Brandt is a Rio Rancho Republican and Senate minority interim whip.)