During my almost four decades of teaching at Riverside-Brookfield High School, I disagreed many times with decisions made by the school board and administration.
As my former colleagues can attest, I usually was quite vocal in my opposition, but always accepted their decisions with grace and disappointment.
This time, I fear for the lives and health of the students, staff and teachers. If I was not retired now, I would be after the decision was made to return to school in the middle of the greatest pandemic in 100 years.
It was with great shock that I learned the decision was unanimous. Some board members pointed to the fact that work places, restaurants and other public places are filled with people.
The quick reopening of these places without proper masking, cleaning and distancing is the very reason the number of cases has risen since June. Most districts surrounding RBHS, namely Morton and Lyons Township, will be all remote for at least a few weeks. Many others are currently delaying opening or rethinking their hybrid plans.
No one likes remote learning. Zoom meetings (or similar systems) are flat and unmotivating. Teachers need to look into students’ faces in order to see the spark of understanding or the confusion that begs for more explanation. They need to reach students’ souls in order to excite them about a concept or idea.
These things cannot be accomplished if kids are sick, scared or worried about the kid less than six feet away. The unknown should scare everyone. Many who were sick with COVID-19 are still experiencing nasty symptoms.
Gov. Pritzker should order all districts to teach remotely, all bars to be closed, all restaurants to be outside only (as he did in May) and all individuals to be fined heavily if they do not wear masks in public. Major restrictions now will enable normalcy to be reached sooner.
I implore the RBHS school board to rethink their decision. Teens will not stay away from each other outside of school. The teachers cannot control what students bring with them into the classroom. Why would anyone vote to risk the health of the RBHS community?