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Bars before schools? We should be ashamed. | READER COMMENTARY

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon speaks about schools during the coronavirus pandemic on July 22, 2020.
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon speaks about schools during the coronavirus pandemic on July 22, 2020. (Colin Campbell/Baltimore Sun)

It has been alleged that we are a nation that doesn’t care about our children. It took a pandemic for me to fully realize the truth of these words.

In March, schools were one of the first major public spaces to be closed. I get it — having kids in close proximity in rundown buildings with inadequate airflow for eight hours each day bookended by sometimes long rides on similarly crowded buses posed a health risk to the students, the adults in the schools and their families at home. Keeping students in school safely was complicated. Scrambling to distribute work packets, technology and periodic classes via Zoom seemed a better option given the unexpected emergency situation. Many school districts, as well as thousands of teachers, social workers, administrators and other staff performed amazing feats with virtually no preparation or warning.

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But that was March. We are now in July. Children have been home for over four months, and we can no longer play the “unexpected emergency” card. The virus is still here and it should be little surprise to anyone that schools will not be able to resume in the traditional way in September (”Thousands of Maryland children will fall behind academically without in-person schooling, advocates warn,” July 24). So, you’d think that we would have made use of the last few months to begin adapting school buildings to accommodate more outdoor and distanced learning, hiring more teachers and staff to allow for smaller classes, creating transportation or school choice alternatives to avoid long crowded commutes, or any of a number of basic measures that could have allowed at least some of our students to return to school.

Only a nation that truly does not care about its children would choose instead to focus on how to retrofit restaurants, bars, airplanes and movie theaters. We should be ashamed.

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Katie Davis, Baltimore

The writer is an education law attorney in Baltimore.

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