Gray: Keep kids safe, what if your child died of COVID-19?

Posted 8/23/21

When it comes to the pandemic, the new boogeyman in the room seems to be Social Emotional Learning.

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Gray: Keep kids safe, what if your child died of COVID-19?


When it comes to the pandemic, the new boogeyman in the room seems to be Social Emotional Learning.

I want to thank the Peoria Unified school board and every school in this district for implementing this program because I know that it works. I have two students on opposite ends of the educational spectrum: one has an IEP, the other one is gifted. So I’ve seen both sides of the SEL coin. And no matter which way you flip it, it always comes out with a positive outcome for the student, which is what’s most important for everybody, I think. So yeah, keep that up because it’s working.

We all know that kids learn a lot more than just the three R’s when they’re in the halls of the PUSD schools. It’s not just reading, writing and arithmetic.

I’ve heard people at school board meetings talk about how they get upset when you say that my “kids are your kids,” but it’s true: my kids are your kids. From 7 a.m to 3 p.m they’re your kids. They’re in your charge and your responsibility. It’s your job to educate them. It’s also your job to give them a safe environment to learn, and right now because of a global pandemic, the only way to do that is by instituting a mask mandate.

Every public health organization — Centers for Disease Control, Arizona Department of Health Services, Maricopa County Department of Public Health, all of them — all say the kids should be masked while in school.

No one wants to go back to virtual learning. It’s not ideal for anybody, but when schools have to close because the county shuts it down for an outbreak that is what’s going to happen.

What happened on day one at Sunset Heights Elementary? It was declared an outbreak.

It’s most likely there’s a student at my kid’s school with COVID-19 who is not wearing a mask and doesn’t even know it. It’s just math. Masks work, but only if implemented properly. My mask protects you and your mask protects me.

If everybody wears them, everybody stays safe. I know the board has stated that it’s going to follow the legislation, but I know that legislation doesn’t go into effect until Sept. 29. And I know there are nine other boards that have voted to implement mask mandates. Every major university in Arizona, and every community college in Maricopa County has followed suit with that decision.

For the folks who think this isn’t a big deal and kids don’t get COVID-19: Arizona ranked no. 2 in COVID-19 deaths from ages 0-19. More than California, more than New York, more than Illinois, and only less than Texas. If you think that is an insignificant number of childhood deaths, 36 families had to bury a child. That’s not insignificant to them.

So don’t listen to me, listen to the experts and keep our kids safe.

Thank you.

Editor's note:  Josh Gray is a Peoria resident and PUSD parent.