Playing Games with our children’s lives at stake

The Superintendent of Schools and the members of the Board of Education of Harford County should be reminded that teachers and students are not pawns to be moved back and forth on the COVID - 19 game board! 

While hundreds of Harford County Public School staff members are working in the schools each day, the Board of Education is still meeting virtually. Harford’s teachers’ union president, Christie Crawford-Smick, sent an email to each member and appeared before the Board virtually to ask why the school board has refused to meet in person for their meetings while at the same time sending hundreds of students and their teachers to school buildings.

School board member David Bauer said he supports continuing with virtual board meetings”…in view of the risks of spreading the coronavirus.” On that same day the Superintendent reported 49 students and adults in Harford’s public schools were excluded because a small number of them displayed symptoms of the virus.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has divided parents, students, and teachers in a world that is already divided. So, how should it be determined when the right time to open schools for all students and teachers has arrived? His partial opening is promoted by the Governor and Maryland State Superintendent. 

The Superintendent apparently relies on Harford’s Health Department’s positive infection rate report. He said if the current rate of 9.9 per 100,000 goes up two more cases he will “reassess” the current plan. No mentioned was made in the meeting that there have been 71 deaths in Harford, a rate of 2.5% of the 1,846 cases recorded. The numbers keep changing daily.  

The ratings from Health Departments rely on test results. But, just this week the media reported that the hundreds of thousands of coronavirus tests purchased by Governor Hogan from South Korea appear to be showing reliability problems. There have been an unusual number of false positives in nursing homes in Maryland, according to the University of Maryland lab in Baltimore.

The challenge of when to open schools to all is not only a testing problem, it’s a teacher supply problem and a parent choice problem.  Harford’s Superintendent noted the results of a school administration survey revealed “…nowhere near enough teachers expressed interest in returning to schools.” A USA Today reported that one in five teachers said they were unlikely report in the fall. Thirty percent of parents in a separate poll said they were likely to pursue home-teaching options. 

The Superintendent may be in for a surprise when he calls teachers back to school.

”Forcing teachers to return to work in the mist of Covid-19, “ Comptroller of Maryland, Peter V.R. Frannchot said “… is nothing more than a ‘Huge Medical Experiment.’”