COD

Education is essential

to Virginia’s students

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Our ability to compete in the global economy depends on a strong educational foundation. Without a strong and equitable public education, wealth and achievement gaps will continue to grow, especially if we opt for hybrid or virtual-only learning models.

The goal of the pandemic shutdown never was to eradicate the coronavirus. It was to flatten the curve so as to not overwhelm hospitals and health care workers. That goal has been achieved. We now know the strategies needed to mitigate exposure and spread.

While there is no doubt that we are facing an unprecedented time and significant health risk, COVID-19 cases in children age 19 and younger account for less than 11% of cases in Virginia, and less than 2% resulted in hospitalizations, with zero deaths.

At the same time, approximately 1,000 day care centers have remained open in Virginia, and while there have been a few outbreaks, none have resulted in deaths. In Henrico County specifically, there have been zero outbreaks from day care centers. Let us learn from day care centers on how to reopen schools and effectively mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Private schools are reopening five days a week this fall. We are failing Virginia’s children by not fully reopening the doors of our public schools and we especially are failing minority, low-income and rural students.

The reopening of schools should provide parents and teachers with a choice — students who want or need a virtual path should be able to get it. Teachers who need a virtual path should be accommodated. Parents who want five-day face-to-face instruction for their children should get that choice.

Education is essential. Teachers are not babysitters — they are educators, and education is about so much more than just academics.

Yael Levin.

Glen Allen.

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