Prior to the start of the new school year Wednesday, several Aledo ISD parents expressed their concerns regarding COVID-19 safety and protocols.
Monica Pradhan Jain, who has children that attend AISD, said as a pediatrician at Cook Children’s, she’s seen firsthand the overload that hospitals are facing as cases continue to rise.
“Our hospital is pretty full and we’ve seen that kids can get sick with COVID,” she told trustees Aug. 16. “Right now, the current count is about 25 children admitted, and I’m not sure how much worse it has to get before people start to get alarmed about this.”
Earlier this month, doctors from Cook Children’s Medical Center composed a letter, addressed to North Texas Regional Schools.
“We, the physicians at Cook Children’s Health Care System, are directly connected to the district or school either as concerned parents or as pediatricians who care for the children we mutually share with your district/school,” the letter reads. “We are writing to you to express our concerns about the Delta Variant of COVID-19 and to recommend that our school district implement safety protocols beyond those that have been in place this summer to address this exigent threat.
“The rapid increases in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths locally and throughout the US in recent weeks are alarming and require an appropriate response. Indeed, we are seeing rising COVID-19 cases in our practices.”
Jain said the flip side of that is the children who aren’t COVID patients but are still needing medical care.
“I’ve had two of my patients that needed to be admitted the past couple of weeks,” she said. “One of them was an infant, and it wasn’t COVID related, but she had to wait in the ER for hours before she got to be admitted because the hospital was so full.”
Jain said she’s frustrated by the lack of alternatives for those parents who aren’t comfortable sending their child to do face-to-face instruction. She said her daughter did virtual learning last year as a precaution.
“It confuses me why we would send our daughter back into the school building with everybody unmasked at this point right in the middle of a surge,” she said. “We simply can’t just send her back, so we’re scrambling to find some form of education for her right now.”
Christopher Bitler, who has two children in the Aledo ISD school system, called every COVID death a tragedy, but thanked the school board for recognizing parents’ authority.
“What I would like to see — and I hope the school board will provide — is the right course of action,” he said. “It does not depend on what Tarrant County does.”
Taking his face mask off as he approached the podium, DB Geehan recounted the story of Makayla Robinson, a 13-year-old from Smith County, Mississippi, who faced away from coronavirus complications nearly a week after her first day of school.
“I understand that for adults, the idea of personal responsibility rings true as part of this amazing state we live in,” Geehen said. “I understand anybody on this board who doesn’t want to pick a fight with the governor. I also understand that if a child in this districts dies or is maimed because of COVID — because either their teacher or the student sitting next to them contracts COVID and spreads it — that is going to fall to you.
“That will be your responsibility, your cross to bear.”
Others had an equally strong opinion regarding the preservation of parental rights.
“Any response that the district may want to impose, I’m going to let it be clear right now. No matter that the governor or the board decides, myself, my children will not be masked, social distancing or any other measure unless I decide for my children,” Zachery Clark said. “It’s time you learn that you are not the masters of our children.”
Eddie Burnett said he had some differences with some of the things he heard Monday night, and heard some that he totally agreed with.
“When we look at COVID and say that children are statistically immune, which child is OK to get COVID? Is it OK for my grandchild to get COVID and be statistically insignificant?” he asked. “My point is it’s not OK for any child — or human being for that matter — if it can be prevented.
“We know, without regard to politics and all that, how to stop COVID. Do we have the will to do it?”
The comments were made during the public comments portion of the meeting, thus no action or discussion by the board was taken.