My wife and I are in the same position as parents across our state. We have three children going into eighth, ninth and 10th grades. Back to school issues have consumed our discussions.
The governor’s leadership has allowed our state to not just “flatten the curve”; we bent it to the floor. However, we remain in Phase 2 of re-opening as COVID-19 cases spike across the country and now Rhode Island. If it is not safe enough for Phase 3 (fully-open), how can it be for schools?
Re-opening schools should be consistent with the phases being used to re-open the rest of the state. Start the school year in Phase 2 (hybrid model) and monitor progress so we have the flexibility to transition to Phase 3 (fully open), or pull back to Phase 1 (full distance learning) depending on local conditions. Parents that prefer distance learning should be given the option and resources to do so.
But that is not enough. We can achieve distance learning for working parents by using schools, libraries, day cares, community centers, as distance-learning centers. Ultimately, we need creative solutions that come from our communities.
If parents have to stay home with children, then unemployment, workers comp, paid family medical leave, should all be available with corresponding support for employers.
We need to rise to this moment with the resources and leadership it requires. There is no room on this field for elected officials to stand on the sidelines.
I appreciate that not everyone will agree with my proposals. I will be talking about these issues and providing opportunities to listen to your concerns. We want to craft policy that accommodates as many people as possible. I look forward to hearing from you. Good luck and God Bless in this difficult times.
David Gronbach is a Democratic candidate for the 30th Senate District in northwestern Connecticut.