Although schools across the country have remained closed with the stated objective of “protecting older adults,” many from that demographic are pleading with lawmakers to lift restrictions. A growing number of educators also recognize that continued closures present unnecessary risks to students. Calling school closures “devastating,” Superintendent Marc Thielman of the Alsea School District says that students and educators must return to classrooms nationwide to mitigate the dire risks of isolation and depression. As of January, Mr. Thielman said that depression and suicide have spiked to record numbers in Oregon, but no students have lost their lives to COVID-19. “We absolutely have to open up schools,” he said. “There is no data … to justify what we have done to our kids. It is a massive failure of government policy.”
In the video below, Mr. Thielman talks about his school’s response to COVID-19 that inspired Learn at Home Oregon, a statewide, cost-free program for students who choose to learn from home and who desire a more balanced approach than what they’re getting from watching teachers lecture online all day. The program features limited screen time, peer-to-peer interaction, and both paper-to-pencil and tactile skills components.
Elaborating on the success of the program, Mr. Thielman — who recently announced his intention to run for governor of Oregon in 2023 — said that no cases of COVID-19 infection can be directly traced to his school district since it resumed in-person instruction in mid-August. This, he said, is proof that continued isolation of the younger population to protect the older generation is both unnecessary and detrimental.
Stating that his school district assumed all liability with their decision to re-open, Mr. Thielman encourages concerned administrators and parents across the nation to maintain their positions of authority when dealing with city, state and nationwide government overreach.
“If we’d gotten COVID policy right, the negative impacts of our desire to fight COVID would have been massively reduced, and we would have been just as effective,” he said.