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It’s time to open schools

To Mayor Kawakami, the County Council and school administrators;

Kauaians eagerly awaited a New Year that would look nothing like 2020. We’ve been “good,” following the rules, regulations and lockdowns, for better and for worse. We’ve worn our masks, “sheltered” at home, so, in 2020, you learned that the citizens of Kaua‘i willingly protect themselves and others who may be “at-risk” due to age or health conditions.

We now know that opinions based on science differ among credible medical experts, i.e., doctors, yet they all agree that school-age children and adolescents, barring specific individual health conditions, are at low risk of acquiring or spreading COVID-19. Yet middle and high schools continue to relegate students to hours of computer instruction, lacking the relief or incentive of school sports and other school activities.

So why are students still enduring hours of computer instruction, inactivity and low motivation without the healthy benefits derived from school sports and other interactive school programs? Why was the recent decision made to allow Senior Softball (which I applaud) without allowing high school sports to begin as well?

Adults do not need school-age children and young adults to refrain from normal daily activities in order to protect us, their “at risk” elders whether we are grandparents, “at risk” adults, or teachers for that matter.

Rather, adults must ensure that children are actively engaged in a way that promotes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Not all working parents can provide that without the help of the schools. Statistics show that middle- and high-school-age students nationwide are highly susceptible to depression given the current restrictions, putting them at risk for failing grades, depression, suicide or self-destructive behavior.

On an island that has among the lowest of COVID-related cases in the nation, imposing these restrictions on our keiki makes no sense.

My husband and I have grandchildren on the island, and we want them to enjoy the opportunities afforded by school, sports programs and healthy activities without worrying about us. Our health is our responsibility, not theirs.

Imposing unnecessary restrictions related to schools and businesses promotes an atmosphere of frustration, distrust, fear and, in many cases, depression.

A healthy community rewards self-responsibility and accountability and prioritizes the needs of our children. Several of Kaua‘i’s private schools have prioritized their students’ and student families’ needs, are taking the prescribed precautions, and the result is positive for all involved.

Who or what is preventing our public schools from doing the same and, more importantly, who is able and willing to make the decision to open the doors of our schools once again? Who will make the move to begin school sports, the benefits of which include motivation to maintain good grades, healthy social interaction and physical health?

I look forward to your responses.

•••

Nanette Keao is a resident of
Kalaheo.
Source: The Garden Island

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