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Schools struggle with virus plans

To the editor:

I have always been told that what the people in charge tell me is best should be accepted as best. I have struggled with that, as I have felt strong opposition to the current course of action taken by Suffolk Public Schools.

As we come to accept the realities of this virus, as people in Suffolk get sick, as people lose their jobs, and as we come to grips with the way this virus is tearing apart society and even taking lives, it is difficult for me to sit by. Students and families are tired and scared, and that’s why I am calling on the Suffolk Public Schools system to do what is right for the students and families.

Stop assigning pointless work, give refunds to students who paid for events or paid class dues, cancel unequitable exams this year, move the second semester to a pass/fail grading system, and stop the transition to Edgenuity.

This is an unprecedented time of unsafety and uncertainty, and it is of the utmost importance that the Suffolk Public Schools system started to act like it. I have friends whose family members have died, society as we know it is shut down, and as the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumps to 136 in Suffolk, the actions taken by the schools are seemingly aimless. As I write this, I am reminded of the feeling that I go to school in a stubborn and self-preserving school system scared to fall on its own sword, but I hope that the school system that owes me a high-quality public education guaranteed to me by the Eighth Amendment to our Virginia Constitution in Section One, will do the right thing.

Help us all be able to be happier and healthier in this time of great stress by removing the stress you are burdening each and every one of your students and families with. Some of the best school districts in the country are following similar measures to those which I have suggested, and I realize we are far from the best in the nation, but why can we not aspire to be the best?

I want to end with several hard questions: What happens when one of my family members dies? Will I be expected to take exams and finish my Edgenuity? What happens when people in Suffolk start dying? Will you change your actions then? What happens if one of my parents loses their job and I have to get a job? What happens when I have to start taking care of the neighbor’s kids while they pick up shifts?

These may just be questions for me, but they are reality for someone else. Stop this course of action, and don’t take for granted the seats you currently sit in. Sometimes I think that the Suffolk Public Schools system tries to prove some kind of academic clout to compensate for a lack of effective pedagogy, and I think that is exactly what is happening.

Paul Meadors

Suffolk