Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order last March to close school buildings across the state has had a devastating impact on student performance. At the end of February, as we rapidly approach the one-year anniversary of classroom closures, 125 school districts remained completely closed to in-person learning.
The science couldn’t be clearer, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
No wonder parents are pleading with Governor Whitmer to reverse course. Her school lockdown orders put their kids in crisis. They are rallying in local communities, they’re sending letters to the Governor and school boards by the thousands, and they’re begging leaders to open classrooms.
Parents aren’t the only ones concerned, though. Earlier this month, nearly 400 physicians, psychologists and health care leaders in southeast Michigan signed an open letter forcefully expressing their expert opinion that in-person learning is safe, and that school closures are dangerous.
Governor Whitmer closed Michigan’s schools last year with a stroke of her pen. Students pay the price for that call every day, and too many kids’ futures have already been lost.
Parents like me only hope now that the Governor will act as boldly to get kids back in the classroom as she did to lock them out of it – before it’s too late.
Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project
Holland Sentinel: DeShone: Gov. Whitmer should listen to experts, bring back in-person learning
“Parents who’ve watched their children struggle, who’ve quit jobs to help them with their online learning, who’ve held their hands during psychiatric and counseling appointments; those parents are left hoping against hope that Gov. Whitmer will be as bold re-opening classrooms as she was in closing them.”
Michigan’s Big Show: Michigan’s Big Show Talks School with Beth DeShone
“Parents… are desperate to have their voices and their children’s voices heard. Follow the science and the data.”
Reports across the state and the nation point to prolonged school closures as a contributing factor in accelerating rates of suicide, depression, anxiety, and pediatric emergency room visits among school-aged children.
Pediatricians – the doctors who specialize in the health and wellbeing of our kids – have warned about these risk factors from the start. They certainly couldn’t have taken Governor Whitmer by surprise.
As early as last June physicians warned publicly that children and adolescents have “been placed at higher risk of morbidity and mortality from physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.”
The science, the doctors, the epidemiologists and the experts aren’t split on this one. They’re all on the same page, and they have been since early last year. The risks associated with school closures, they’ve concluded, far outweigh the risks associated with COVID-19 in schools.
Opening schools shouldn’t be hard, and it shouldn’t be controversial.
Have you contacted your local school board yet and demanded in-person learning options for your students this year and next fall?
Board members are elected locally, and they need to hear about impact the Governor’s lockdown orders are having on local students. They need to hear that news from local parents.
Where Governor Whitmer refuses to lead, your local board has opportunities to act.
Contact your school board today!