Dear Gov. Youngkin & Chesapeake School Board Members,
With masks becoming optional (via parental rights) on Monday in Chesapeake, I have some questions and concerns regarding COVID safety protocols. I know that three feet of separation is impossible in a typical classroom environment, let alone the six feed that is recommended by health experts. I also know that the vast majority of our classrooms do not have purifiers and that the HVAC systems ins most of our buildings need work. Further, I know that our amazing nurses and contact tracers are working around the clock, quite literally, to follow all contact tracing protocols (are they getting paid for all their overtime work, by the way?).
Considering these factors, I am writing to inform you that I am exercising my fundamental right as a parent in the state of Virginia “to direct the upbringing, care, and education of my children.” I do not want my children sitting in class within six feet of unmasked classmates. This is not out of arrogance, but merely out of precaution. I do not want my children’s in-person education to be interrupted by quarantine or isolation due to being near an unmasked student who may be contagious with COVID. The decision of those student’s parents to have them attend a public school unmasked should not be allowed to affect my fundamental right to protect the continuity of my children’s education.
I know that Dr. Cotton met with other administrators during the snow day (as an aside, shouldn’t parents get to decide whether or not it is safe to send their children to school during inclement weather and not the school district?). The directive that came from that meeting? “It is important to note that we will not be able to accommodate requests for class changes or special seating assignments due to mask preference.” So my parental right to protect my child from infected classmates is denied to the parental right of someone else to refuse to have their child wear a mask. This is not equitable.
Since state leadership is adamant that parental rights be respected, I look forward to hearing how parents who share my concern will have their parental rights honored while simultaneously not allowing others’ rights (to choose to not have their children wear masks) to infringe upon our ability to exercise the same rights for the care of our children (to protect them from a highly contagious viral infection).
As a further notice, I recently finished my orientation to begin as a substitute teacher for the school district. As an educator with a Masters in Education, I applied prior to winter break as I saw how dire the need was for qualified people like myself to step up and help keep our children safe and in school. Due to the decision at the emergency school board meeting, however, I have notified Human Resources that I will not be picking up any substitute teaching shifts during this time where it will be functionally impossible for teachers, especially a substitute, to maintain a safe and orderly environment in schools where children are told by their parents that they do not have to follow rules and policies.
Thank you for your time and I truly hope we can maintain consistent application of “parental rights” rules and not merely ones that the board chooses to adhere to.
CPS Parent & Educator & 2022 Candidate For Chesapeake Public School Board
P.S.: For any reading this who would like to contribute to the fight against this illegal Executive Order, the Chesapeake 13 (parents who have sued the Governor) have a GoFundMe available to help in their legal battles!