Serving Franklin County, WA

Masks or homeschool, a parent's choice

Educators nationwide scoff at the idea of homeschooling children.

Those in unions, especially those in the Washington Education Association in our state, say parents can't provide the same educational opportunities at home as are available in public schools. A large part of their reasoning are social interactions. Indeed, those in the union have long argued social interactions are more important than allowing advanced students to move up a grade or substandard students from being held back.

Even educators in our community colleges and universities make the argument that adult students gain more interacting with their peers on campus than they do in a strictly online curriculum.

But that was before unfounded panic set in over this year's Wuhan coronavirus.

Now that state-level education officials have decided that its too dangerous for elementary, middle and high school students to return to the classroom in the fall without wearing masks, the social interaction drumbeat has evaporated.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and Gov. Jay Inslee last week may have issued so-called guidance calling for face-to-face instruction to resume in public schools in the fall. But let's be very clear - they are speaking only figuratively.

At best, they are calling for mask-to-mask instruction, generally requiring all school employees, students and visitors to wear masks - even though most have little virus-stopping value. At worst, the plan essentially isolates students from their peers and educators, even though they may be in the same classroom.

Under Reykdal's "Reopening Washington Schools 2020: District Planning Guide," masks are just the beginning. In addition, schools are being directed to encourage parents to drop off and pick up students at school, keep students at least 6 feet apart and make students wash their hands after touching just about everything.

Good luck with that.

Schools are also being told to take students' temperatures regularly; cancel field trips, assemblies and large gatherings; prevent singing and other activities where students expel too much moisture-laden air; put more space between desks; stagger class start and end times; curtail "nonessential" visits and restrict student movement between classrooms and the lunchroom.

Sounds a lot like homeschooling to me. It also sounds like indoctrination into what a few people are calling a "new normal."

There is nothing normal about making kids wear masks day in and day out. There is nothing normal about sending them to school for social interaction and growth, only to keep them apart.

If its safe enough for students to return to the classroom in the fall, then its safe enough for students to interact with each other.

If its not that safe, maybe its time to trust parents with one of their primary duties - to take responsibility for their children's education.

- Roger Harnack is the publisher of Free Press Publishing. Email him at [email protected].

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

Author photo

Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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