Strong opinions have surfaced with regard to opening schools or not. Depending on who you listen to, there are some great arguments on all sides. The topic gets super compelling when you consider the number of stakeholders involved in what used to be a routine rite of Autumn – going back to school.

School districts don’t want to get sued. Teachers don’t want to get sick. Students want to go to school and play sports. Parents want to go to work. Put it all together and you’ve got the educational chaos of COVID.

The decision makers have a hierarchy of influence on the school opening decision. The players include the President, CDC, Governor, County Health Department, Local Health Department, School District, Parent, and Student. As with the unpredictable nature of the virus, we also have the unpredictable nature of who gets the final say on who goes to school and when. 

As with many issues in this country, school openings, and education in general, is decided by class, income, and race. 

On the extreme edges of society, expensive private schools attended by mostly white students are open and poor public school districts attended by mostly minority students are closed. That simply means rich white kids are getting educated and poor black and brown kids are left behind. 

We’re beginning to see some in the middle like the Chichesters, Garnet Valleys, Penn Delcos, Radnors and Haverfords of the world starting to buck the hierarchy of influence and are preparing to open their schools ahead of the recommended date. And then there’s the poor district in the black community who won’t, can’t, and some would say shouldn’t open, leaving the poorest and most in need scholars out of school. 

In the perfect separate-but-equal world, the poor black and brown students staying home because the risk of catching COVID at school is too risky to bring home to his preexisting conditioned family, would have high speed internet, connected devices, and an in-home curriculum facilitator (aka a parent to help with school work). But, we’re not in a perfectly equal world as class, income and race separates those getting educated from those who aren’t. 

COVID creates a new need for school choice. A parent who wants to send their poor black and brown child to school should be able to send that kid to a neighboring school districts that’s opening. Or, the school district they live in should be offered the resources to create as safe an environment as possible for these students to attend their own school. 

As I live, work, and breath in one of those cities with a closed school system, I look at the environment these children are navigating on a daily basis and I don’t see much of any adherence to COVID safety protocol in hardly any of the public spaces. To think that schools are more dangerous for contracting COVID-19 than the corner store, the fried chicken joint, the basketball court, the street corner, the crowded house, or the front porch is ludicrous. 

In the meantime, the only people allowed to receive education have parents that can pay tuition while the rest of us not willing to challenge the hierarchy of influence will be waiting around for a vaccination. 

Stop playing and get these school equipped for parents who want the choice to send their students to school.