After a year and a half of quarantine, isolation and missed social opportunities, the school committee in the town where I teach unanimously voted to require students, over the age of 12, to show proof of vaccination if they want to participate in indoor extra-curricular activities or winter athletics. In addition, they are encouraging mobile vaccination sites to be a visible presence on school grounds rather frequently.
And for a school year that started with a focus on equity and community building, these latest moves seem rather discriminatory and inequitable. I find it hard to believe that the school system cares about students’ social emotional needs when they are choosing to segregate the children and not include any that aren’t vaccinated.
Upon approval of the new requirement, there was no discussion about what would happen to the children who can no longer participate in these activities.
You are judged for everything
Furthermore, when you live in a “blue” state, like me, and work in public education, if your views don’t conform to and agree with the majority, life feels rather secluded. Our society has gotten to the point where every step taken is now subject to judgment.
Prior to the pandemic, did we ever judge and criticize those to the point of seclusion if they didn’t get their flu shot? Did we ever not allow children to participate in activities they enjoy, and may very well excel in, if their parents’ opinions and decisions differed from that of the school board?
I’m truly baffled and ashamed of how polarizing and isolating this pandemic has made us as a nation. If someone’s views differ, they are seen as unworthy or less than. What’s worse is now that same effect is happening to our youth.
How will they ever learn to value differences and varying opinions, and use them to work together for the common good, if they are being told they are wrong?
From a young age we try to teach children to accept everyone and play with all. We teach them to celebrate differences and have made leaps and bounds in public education in celebrating the lives of all people. Except now we are moving backwards yet again.
I’m tired of feeling pressured, in both my work life and personal life. I’m disgusted by the fact that any attempt to show my true self is wrought with judging eyes. It’s seems this pandemic has turned this nation into “land of the free only if you follow me.” Instead, I’d like my children to still be allowed to be children—to explore, to learn, to play—to learn about the world around them free from judgment and seclusion.