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What Pandemic School Policy Taught Us | GPR Editorial



Are the school pandemic policies from 2020 on the 2022 school board election ballot? You bet they are. No one wants to go back in time to look back to then — but there and then belie the drivers and motivators of policy.


What’s been clear from the pandemic, postmortem, is that restrictive policies that led to extensive — and lengthy — school closures. Those that lasted for more than a year — and orchestrated by teacher unions. The damage in terms of learning loss and social and emotional development now are evident — and the unions are all too anxious to walk from those decisions.


If cornered, teacher unions claim those policies were a necessary evil in the face of uncertainty and the prospect of death by contagion. But those are false flag assertions. Even amid the uncertainty, there were intermediate steps that parents called for that schools ignored, as children began their scholastic and personal descent.


Restrictive pandemic policy — in such a harried time — should have been applied always with the manta of “with the lightest touch, for the shortest amount of time.” After all, we are dealing with the welfare of kids.


Instead students endured long-haul virtual learning, with another year with students in masks. Which, the schools here at SDUHSD tried convincing us was necessary— except private schools down the street found ways to open, and schools in other states dispensed with the requirements for masks — all without the sky falling or a death-toll mounting.


Looking back, it was, as it were, about the money. Teacher unions embraced the notion to “never let a crisis go to waste.” It was manta. It was gospel. It was their playbook. And the more slowly schools here improvised with hybrid schedules to reduce classroom size, and the less schools here utilized fare-weather outdoor spaces— the more school could justify the need for fixes — by way of Chromebooks and HVAC upgrades long neglected, never mind a full school year working from home.


The schools have had money — lord knows we pay enough in taxes — and here, much of the annual budget has gone to salary the teachers. Not just to pay them well (as they should be paid), but to pay the most. To extents now that our district teeters on insolvency. Never has our district in recent times positioned itself toward a balance that must be struck — to draw and keep talented teachers while operating within our means and fund functional, updated facilities.


The district needs, more so now than ever, board trustees who look out for the district holistically. If voters learned a thing from the 2020 pandemic school policies — the ones led by union-backed trustees — it’s that union-backed trustees will continue to fund the cherry and whipped cream packages for faculty as they run the district's budget into oblivion — and that the needs of students, to them, were always secondary. The district needs leaders who focus on the needs of students.

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