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Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

Mike Lawson • March 2021Perspective • March 6, 2021

Everybody wants to get back to normal. We are all tired of being cooped up in our homes, dealing with working from home, never leaving, or just going out maybe to go to the store. We’re getting so close to the end of this. Or are we? It’s hard to know.

The vaccines are becoming more available, but they’re not prevalent. Politicians are pushing for schools to open. Some of them are demonizing teachers and teacher unions for being resistant, but safety has to come first. Not just for the students, but the teachers, the administrative staff, the support services. Today they announced there would be enough supply on hand by May for every adult to be vaccinated in the US. That would be great!

We all want school to reopen. The students want to go back. They want to see their friends. They might even be starting to miss school food.

The students want to look forward to traveling again. What’s band without a band trip? What’s student retention without performance, festivals, band trips and camaraderie? It’s not as much fun, that’s for certain, but we can’t rush this process. We just can’t. Not one teacher’s life is worth the risk. I’m not leaving the house very much these days. There’s nowhere to go and very little to do until I have the vaccine. I have too much to lose, including my life.

Fortunately, some states are beginning to realize teachers are essential workers. that you’re not lazy. They need you in no small part because the economy depends on you doing your job so that schools are taking care of children while their parents are in the workforce. They are so interconnected.

I get upset every time I hear a politician say, “We need to reopen schools,” but there is no emphasis on the need to protect the teachers. It’s frustrating. Many of the same ones pushing so hard to happen now are the same ones who said this virus would be over in hotter weather, or would go away after the election, who won’t support social distancing or masks. It is hard to believe medical science is so politicized, and that those who take the most pride in distrusting science now want to point to it when it is convenient for their “open the schools now” push to say that studies claim it is very safe.

To hear them praise you in one sentence and then callously disregard your safety in another is frustrating. I don’t know how you fix that with a politician, except maybe vote them out. I want you to be safe. I want your coworkers to be safe. Your staff, your boss, your students, their parents, the custodial staff, the lunchroom workers, the bus drivers. We know this virus isn’t going away, and we know the vaccine will give us some level of protection. And until you are all vaccinated I’m personally not going to feel very good about reopening.

Some things are going to get better if we are smart about the vaccine rollout, but as I type this, Texas is lifting all restrictions and daring a resurgence to occur. What could go wrong in a giant state fully reopened with a lot of antivaxxers in the population? Sometimes I think this column should be called, “But I digress…”

It’s March. The school year is mostly shot at this point. What’s left? April and May? A week or so in June at most? We shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch, or try to return to normal, whatever that looks like, until enough people have been vaccinated. If we can push patience and safety, we can hopefully be more successful in getting back to the new normal that awaits. I’m willing to wait. I know not everyone can do that as easily, but the alternative seems to be a lot of sickness, suffering, and even death. I have never wanted a shot so bad before in my life. I hope you can get yours soon, and until then, be safe.

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