There's a troubling sociological movement that seems to be only gaining momentum and followers as we plough forward through our increasingly uncertain modern era. No, we're not talking about the propensity people had to stock up on toilet paper over food
There’s a troubling sociological movement that seems to be only gaining momentum and followers as we plough forward through our increasingly uncertain modern era.
No, we’re not talking about the propensity people had to stock up on toilet paper over food in the early days of the pandemic, but rather the incredible ability some members of our society display in regards to conveniently ignoring hard facts of reality that persists around them – especially facts that disrupt their preferred world view, like all of the sudden objective truth just became an unwanted burden in the 21st century.
Conspiratorial thinking has become an increasingly insidious part of our day-to-day existence. The president himself purports that the so-called, purposefully ambiguous “Deep State” is an active force manipulating decisions and people within our government, and that COVID is simply a hoax meant to tank his re-election chances, prompting news channels to report on these concepts as though they actually have merit.
And although we have enjoyed patting ourselves on the back in Rhode Island for our measured, effective response since COVID struck during the early spring and has now spanned nearly two full seasons, it seems now that it has come time for our own leaders to ignore the hard realities around them and engage in a more selective acceptance of the facts that they prefer to recognize.
Whether it was done for political reasons, out of spite or there is something else going on, there is simply no acceptable reason for Governor Raimondo to have said on the record that parents in Warwick would “have a very good case” to sue the Warwick School Department and to suggest reaching out to the state to see what their legal options may be – all because the Warwick School Committee listened to the concerns of its teachers’ union and parent population in regards to safety concerns should they go back to full in-person learning.
We have been effusive of the governor’s response to the pandemic in this state. She has held firm on following sound science and called out the absurd lack of guidance from the federal government early on – back when doctors couldn’t even get adequate PPE to handle the spiking cases. She has demonstrated a strong ability to effectively communicate and provided a calming presence during a time of extreme anxiety.
This is why it makes absolutely no sense to us why she would pick this moment – the return of schools – to change course from her supportive but stern stance of governance (like when she authentically charmed most of us while simultaneously ordering us to “knock it off” when it came to large gatherings) into something that more closely resembles spiteful bullying due to a disagreement over procedure.
While we have been supportive of Governor Raimondo’s tactics thus far, we absolutely cannot agree with her insistence that somehow – magically, as President Trump might say – sending all kids back to in-person learning in a month’s time, at the onset of flu season, will somehow go off without a hitch and not just result in a complete re-do of what ended last year’s school year prematurely.
Don’t take our word for it, either. The teachers and administrators who will actually be in the buildings know this situation is perilous at best, and outright denial of reality at its worst. Warwick alone has only three buildings in the entire district (out of 19) that are graded as having sufficient air circulation and ventilation to prevent spread of the virus. Some of these schools have windows that literally do not open, or HVAC systems that are older than many of the parents who send students to their classrooms.
The state’s current restrictions limit gatherings to 15 adults. Adults, for the most part, know how to distance and behave and follow the rules to prevent from getting sick. Somehow, magically, classes of 25-30 students and educators will be able to do the same, day in and day out, with no consequences? Anybody who has ever been around a child knows how easy it is for them to forget about using sound hygienic practices (and that’s putting it nicely).
In-person learning is bar none the best way to teach students – and nobody with a firm grasp on reality will argue otherwise. However, there also needs to be an acceptance that these are not normal times. These are times of unprecedented sacrifice and hard pills to swallow. To try and pretend otherwise is disingenuous and possibly destructive thinking – and when it comes to populating schools, such thinking could result in far more tangible consequences than just decreased reading comprehension.
If the governor is so certain her approach is the right way to go, she should issue an executive order and be prepared to fight the legality of that order in court. We saw how well that went for Florida. This insinuation that parents should initiate that legal process against Warwick – a district that is simply trying to not immediately endanger their students and families by forcing them into buildings that they know are not safe to occupy was simply abhorrent.
Governor, knock it off and leave Warwick alone.