Commentary: Schools must not return to hybrid learning next week

By Kevin Ohlandt

Delaware Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Department of Education issued a letter Tuesday urging that students return to Delaware schools to commence hybrid learning Jan. 11.

Kevin Ohlandt

This is a very foolish mistake, which will cost more lives. I can’t stress this enough. While some school districts, such as Red Clay Consolidated and Christina, have already made this decision, it is not too late for others. We need a massive rally against this. The only way to do this is for every single Delawarean who is opposed to this hasty decision to email their local school board and urge it to reconvene and vote a firm and absolute “no” to students returning o Monday for hybrid learning.

We have COVID-19 cases increasing in Delaware. All the metrics put us in the red. The governor and the Delaware DOE think that changing the metrics will put students and staff in less danger. This is absolutely ridiculous.

We have two things going on here, folks:

1. We don’t know how much spread occurred due to the holidays, and

2. There is the potential of the new strain reaching Delaware and causing further spread.

Now is not the time, Gov. Carney, and you know it. We can all agree that students are going to lose time and instruction this year. It has already happened. Growth this year is already a joke because of all this. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. It is January, halfway through the school year. It is not safe yet. We need more vaccinations and for the number of cases and deaths in Delaware to go down. We aren’t Mississippi, Gov. Carney, and you know this.

For those reading this, please share these sentiments with every single person you know in this state. School district boards of education and charter school boards must be notified immediately to stop this insanity. This needs to happen today.

My son’s school district, Capital, was scheduled to meet Wednesday. I submitted the following public comment to them prior to the emeting:

“Good morning, I am writing to inform you that I am vehemently opposed to any decision that would put Capital School District students into hybrid learning beginning January 11. It is my fervent hope the Capital School District Board of Education votes against it as well. Delaware Gov. John Carney and the Department of Education have changed the metrics so much that it would seem possible for students to return in a hybrid environment. The bare truth is that the original metrics, designed to help save lives, are firmly in the red categories. While we could debate the reasoning behind the changes in the metrics the end result is the same — more people in Delaware could potentially die. COVID numbers are on a massive increase in Delaware. And we don’t know the true numbers based on the holidays yet. With the potential of the new strain (which has put England under lock-down yet again) reaching Delaware, it is a time to be cautious rather than hasty. We must not bow to the whims of Gov. Carney and the Delaware DOE. We need to look at the benefit of our students, teachers, staff, and citizens of Dover and save lives. Please vote no on students returning January 11 for hybrid learning and keep remote learning in place until it is safer for students to return.”

John Ewing writes in the Dec. 28 issue of Forbes and says it all: “Early in the pandemic, people observed that children didn’t get sick as readily as adults. Children were tested much less often than adults. Asymptomatic spread was unknown or uncertain. Studies focused on sickness in schools rather than transmission, and they suggested that keeping schools open had few costs. But this is wrong. A recent article in the German magazine Spiegel International details an Austrian study that shows schoolchildren are infected at the same rates as adults and quite efficiently spread COVID-19 to others. There are now many other studies that draw similar conclusions. A review of studies from a group of scientists and doctors in Sweden (Disclosure: My brother is among them) links to 25 investigations from around the world and provides summaries of each. The science is clear: Children become infected and spread COVID-19 to their parents, grandparents, siblings and next-door neighbors. Those infected get sick. Some have long-term complications. Some die. Opening schools costs lives. If you believe in science, you have to accept even uncomfortable truths.”

Kevin Ohlandt is the parent of a Capital School District student and occasional education blogger.