Connect with Point of View   to get exclusive commentary and updates


mask wearing teacher
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

Let me start with an important question. Should teachers be considered essential workers? Over the last few months we have designated police officers and firefighters along with doctors, nurses, and health care professionals as essential workers. We even designated grocery workers, delivery drivers, food processors, and truck drivers as essential.

These people (and many more we could list) went to their jobs every day. Some complained, but most considered the potential risks and did what they could to prevent catching the coronavirus. We owe these people a tremendous debt of gratitude. By contrast, lots of public-school teachers and the teachers’ unions are resisting any attempt to reopen the schools. There have been petitions and even protests. That’s why most schools will be closed this fall.

We closed down school systems months ago because we assumed that children would be a most vulnerable group during a pandemic. We now know that children are the least vulnerable to the virus. The American Academy of Pediatricians advocated that schools have “a goal of having students physically present in schools.” The New England Journal of Medicine warns that “Children living in poverty, children of color, English language learners, children with diagnosed disabilities, and young children face especially severe losses.”

Will some teachers be more at risk than others if schools reopen? That is possible, but one survey found that only 17 percent of public-school teachers are in the vulnerable age range of 55 or older. This would have to be managed. Public schools in other countries in Europe and in Australia have been able to do this successfully.

For years we have been told that educating the next generation is essential. So why shouldn’t governors, mayors, and school administrators designate teachers as essential workers? It is a question that I suggest you ask them, especially during this election season.

viewpoints new web version

Viewpoints sign-up