I am writing in the hopes that I can appeal to the public regarding a very urgent matter. This is to anyone with a school aged child, or who cares about the education of the children in our community.
As we are all very well aware, our children have been without any real form of schooling since March. Our 2020 grads were deprived of the graduation that the worked so hard for and that they deserved. We are quickly approaching a new school year, and unless we all work together for the sake of our kids, we are doomed to repeat the same mess all over again.
I believe that we are all being misled into believing that our schools are reopening on August 17th. In fact, the word is that schools will not be able to offer face to face instruction UNTIL we meet State benchmark criteria for COVID-19.
Most concerning is the benchmark that Graham Co. must report a decrease in positive COVID cases for 30 days before they can reopen face to face instruction. How is this going to happen when our current trend is a 37 % increase per week?! For working parents (like myself), who absolutely have to go back to work or face a loss in income—the plan is (if no face to face instruction) to cram our kids into the Boys and Girls Club and to let them “learn” that way.
One of the things I have always appreciated about this community is the way we support our public schools. This support has created a strong bond that has moved mountains (a state-of-the-art music program in rural AZ!). Despite being under-funded, parent support for schools has resulted in an “A+” public education for our kids.
Yet when I look around, I am shocked to see the lack of support when it comes to reopening this school year. Just the other day I was crammed into the lobby of a bank (I won’t name names, but bank rhymes with “Dreadful”). No masks were being worn by either cashiers or customers, and no hand sanitizing, despite the fact that someone itched her nose and went back to counting money. I thought to myself: “Do these folks NOT want our schools to reopen?”
Sadly, this is not an isolated situation; while I see some in masks and doing what they can to support our kids (and to these folks , business and churches –THANK YOU), I am aware that there are plenty that continue to turn their backs on another school year.
I have tried appealing to our elected leaders to lead us through these hard times, but they seem to be too busy getting themselves reelected.
So, I am appealing to the good citizens of this valley—people who know I in their hearts love our kids and pride themselves on being Bulldogs, Eagles, Wildcats, Roughriders and Apaches.
If we were to all wear masks, wash hands, and social distance for just two short weeks, we could significantly reduce our covid numbers and reopen our schools safely. I am respectfully requesting that we set the old arguments aside regarding COVID-19, and for the next several days, put our kids and their education above all else.
Julie Benvenuto lives in Safford.