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What Does a “Safe Return” to School Look Like?

By: 
LOIS WEINER AND JACKSON POTTER

Above photo: Jesse Sharkey, president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), speaks August 3 prior to the Occupy City Hall Protest and Car Caravan, organized by CTU and others. Kamil Krzacynski/AFP via Getty Images.

Demands for stu­dents and edu­ca­tors to return to in-per­son school­ing dur­ing the pan­dem­ic are com­ing from Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans, both claim­ing the return is nec­es­sary not just to pro­vide high-qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion, but to save the econ­o­my and get par­ents back to work. The nar­ra­tive con­scious­ly exploits the needs of par­ents who may not have health­care and who rely on pub­lic schools to care for and edu­cate their chil­dren while they work. It pits par­ents, stu­dents, teach­ers and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers against one anoth­er, using (or ignor­ing) sci­en­tif­ic data to suit the polit­i­cal pur­pose of mon­eyed inter­ests — the bipar­ti­san project of destroy­ing pub­lic schools.