Melissa Lestini 0

Support Safe In-Person School Options in the Moorestown Public Schools

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As medical professionals and parents of Moorestown students, we are deeply concerned about the misunderstanding and misinformation circulating in our community on safely re-opening our schools – and on the school district’s apparent capitulation to these misgivings. The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recently took a great step forward when they issued evidence-based guidelines to allow US schools to safely re-open.1 While providing a roadmap to safely returning to in-person education, the guidelines unambiguously rely on methods using the best available evidence to do so – including masking, smaller class size/hybrid learning model, and assurance of appropriate social distancing. The state of New Jersey Department of Health also supports this guidance.2

Unfortunately, some in the community have either misunderstood, or misrepresented, these guidelines to advocate for an in-person solution that would ignore such methods. For unclear reasons, these advocates have demanded that the school district force parents into a “no-win” choice of either full in-person learning that does not assure adequate protections, or full remote options lacking social interaction.

Ironically, while many of these advocates claim to be proponents of “parental choice” on a number of issues, in forcing these two extreme options they have taken away choice for parents who wish to have their children in a live interactive classroom – but with appropriate safety measures in place. Even more distressingly, the school district has bought into this false dichotomy, by presenting no option for in-person learning that also adheres to CDC guidelines. This decision forces individual families and teachers to make a terrible choice – deny their children much needed social interaction or place themselves and vulnerable family members at higher risk.

Furthermore, the two extreme options amplify the inequity that exists in our community. Well-to-do families who wish to adhere to evidence-based guidelines will have the luxury to place their children into private school (and are likely to do so), while families struggling to balance work and education, for whom full remote is not a realistic option, will essentially be forced to sign a waiver that puts their child into the CDC’s “highest risk” category by not allowing for appropriate social distancing.

Up to this point, the school district has taken admirable measures to listen to all points of view, while making safe choices in the best interest of our children. For the safety of our children, our teachers, our families and our community, it is imperative that the school district continues to adhere to the best science and safety guidelines when preparing in-person learning options.

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