My “School Should Open” Beat Down
The Online School Board Meeting
So On Monday Night I got to experience my first ever “Virtual School Board Meeting”. It was a decidedly surreal experience the likes of which I have not seen before. Due to the perceived dangers of Covid-19 the Board Meeting Had to take place in a “Web-Ex” environment. The main topic was the proposed “hybrid” model for the upcoming school year. The plan was to divide students into Two Groups at each school. One group would have Live School on Monday, Tuesday, the other group would have live school on Thursday, Friday…with Wednesday being a cleaning day….and both groups having “Online” school the other 3 days of the week. I was very surprised to learn that what was up for discussion was not only whether or not we should have this proposal, or actual school 5 days a week, but also whether or not they shouldn’t even do the 2 days a week, and everything should be online.
I dutifully prepared as many scientific facts as I could, and delivered them within the allotted 4 minutes of time as clearly as possible. Most of the other public comments were regarding safety concerns and how schools should stay online only until we know it is safe. It should come as no surprise that 4 minutes was not enough time to sway, change, or influence anyone with any magnitude.
The thing that is most disappointing to see within the school system is a huge disregard to looking at the scientific facts of the situation. The media has done such a great job hyping the dangers, and showing every single worst case scenario over and over again, people really are afraid.
Despite the implications of this meeting on families and households all over Eau Claire County, there were only 13 people who signed up for Public Comment. I guess that is way more than usual, but nowhere near where I would have expected things to be. Out of the 13 people who commented 7 were Teachers, Teachers Representing Teacher and Educator Organizations, so there were only 6 parents that didn’t work in the school system, and one of them was a former teacher. Of the 6 parents, 4 of us were in favor of 5 day a week school, and 2 thought it should be online only.
Still, for such a big decision, I was very surprised that more people didn’t sign up to comment. Fear is usually an irrational thing to begin with. What is happening in our communities now is that the fear has taken over to the point where people are paralyzed to do or think anything on their own. People are willing to risk financial ruin, rather than risk the dangers of their kids going back to school. One of the parents comments was that the problems with online learning will be difficult for children to overcome, but nowhere near as difficult as it would be for the children to overcome the loss of a parent. That is how scared everyone is.
I was asked to speak on television locally after the decision was made, and I declined. Didn’t see the point in making more people angry and upset, when there was nothing that could be changed. Apparently in places like Milwaukee they are doing only online schooling, and this was cited on numerous occasions, so ironically, our little Eau Claire School District was stepping out on a limb with the 2 days a week option.
Needless to say, I did hear some positive comments from people who were in the audience that I did not know were there. It was nice to know some people agree with looking at the actual data, but in the end, everything I presented did not matter, and nothing changed. I feel bad for the kids, because a huge percentage of them are going to be falling even further behind now. More distressing is that they are being taught to be afraid, to panic, and to submit to the emotional reactions of people, rather than to look to logic and reasoning.
All of you who are out there working with the public, thank you for being bastions of hope and reason during a difficult time for our communities. Your everyday impact on the people who come into your businesses has a far greater impact than you realize. Thanks for all that all of you are doing, and remember all of us are entitled to our own “opinions”…but we should not be entitled to our own “facts” meaning the facts are what they are, you don’t get to just make ones up to justify your opinion…for what it is worth.
Here’s to Empowering your dreams, Igniting Your Passion, and Accelerating Your Prosperity!
WJ Vincent II
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