(The following article is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of iFIBER ONE News, iFIBER Communications, or it’s staff)
MOSES LAKE - I would like to thank Moses Lake School Board members Bryce McPartland, Shannon Hintz, and Vickey Melcher and especially Dr. Meek for modifying the reopening plan for Moses Lake High School to align with the recommendations provided by the Grant County Health Officer. I can appreciate the frustration with the situation the board is in regarding opening in-person learning, and you made the right decision for the school that poses the greatest risk for students, staff, and the community. Arriving at this decision was a frustrating process for everyone involved, but the important part is getting the plan right in the end - not how we got there. Thank you.
There is still the issue of middle and elementary schools, which the local medical community along with the county health officer have informed the board are not safe to open. The plan to let parents make their own decisions about dangerous behavior during a pandemic is akin to allowing parents to decide whether to send their kids into a building that the fire marshal has declared unsafe. Even if you let parents send their kids into a burning building, they wouldn’t be able to remain there long without being injured or killed. It would be even more unethical to ask staff to also enter the burning building to work. This virus, whether you believe it or not, is causing permanent injuries and deaths in our community right now.
The doctors that have advised you to begin the year with remote learning are the people who will be caring for any students, staff, or community members who become ill as a result of opening schools. Going against the strong professional medical advice you have been given 3 separate times now would make each board member who supports the current plan directly responsible for any injuries or deaths that happen as a result. You cannot claim that you weren’t warned.
It is certainly very late in the process now, but it’s not too late. As I said earlier, the end result is what matters. With the infection rate we currently have in Grant County, schools will not stay open very long if you continue to follow the current plan for elementary and middle schools. Students who attend school in-person will be bounced back to remote learning. You’re not giving parents a real choice here, because the plan cannot work. What will happen, if you force the county health officer to close schools, is you will lose your ability to be flexible and accommodating to students and staff in the future - you will be ceding your authority.
Bryce, Shannon, and Vickey, you made a very wise decision at the last meeting to follow the medical recommendations for the high school. The community owes you a debt of gratitude for that decision. Let’s continue the trend of strong leadership by adopting similar policies for all schools in the district.