One lesson learned, one ignored

Posted 8/17/22

Another summer is flying by and parents are surely already looking ahead to the start of school a few weeks from now.

Compared to last autumn and the spring of 2020, there is certainly a more …

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One lesson learned, one ignored


Another summer is flying by and parents are surely already looking ahead to the start of school a few weeks from now.

Compared to last autumn and the spring of 2020, there is certainly a more palpable feeling of optimism that Covid will not create the same degree of disruption and chaos for our schools. Adults and children alike are hardened pandemic warriors at this point — battle tested and equipped with the knowledge and reflexes to respond effectively when the disease rears its ugly head.

This familiarity certainly bodes well for students and teachers when it comes to offering the best opportunity for positive educational outcomes: in-person learning. Although our ability to pivot and offer remote learning options during the height of the outbreaks of the past was admirable — and students, teachers, and administrators really do deserve a heap of credit for adjusting on the fly in the midst of such an unprecedented and complex crisis — the data and anecdotal evidence has made it very clear that there is no substitute for students being in school, learning and forming social skills with their peers.

In this sense, getting back to a more “normal” rhythm, where Covid is a closely-watched and respected threat, but not an immediate cause for panic or alarm when a positive case pops up, is a positive adaptation in our collective societal evolution. We certainly wish there was a way to go back in time and nip this virus in the bud when it first began spreading, but perhaps this is the best we can do considering the circumstances.

What we are not excited about going back to “normal”, however, is the return of the three-tiered system of providing school meals to our children. Through government policy during an unprecedented moment of need, all school lunches have been provided at no cost, with no paperwork necessary for kids to get a healthy, filling meal that fuels their day of learning and could be one of the only good meals they get all day.

That free ride ended on June 30, and students will be back to their segregated categories of either paying for lunch, getting reduced price lunch, or getting free lunch if they demonstrate enough need.

Just as our experience has solidified that in-person learning is the only effective way forward for student instruction, so too have we learned just how beneficial providing free school lunch (and breakfast, for that matter), to every student, regardless of their parent’s economic status, truly has been.

We find it a bit maddening that such a radical shift in how we provide school lunch to kids — brought on by a moment of sheer, undeniable need — could be carried out so easily, so effectively, and with so little fanfare, only for us to immediately revert to the old, wholly inferior status quo once the federal government said ‘You don’t have to do that anymore.’

We should do it indefinitely, no questions asked.

Politicians love to talk about how important children are to our future, so it only follows that they should advocate for a lasting investment in their education by providing guaranteed nourishment that does not require them and their family to be outed as economically disadvantaged.

We all agree kids should stay in school to learn, so why is it a matter of debate whether we should just foot the bill to feed them while they’re present?



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