A chance to rethink schools
The clear winner in all of this disruption is the unprecedented opportunity to reevaluate what has become “standard” in our current systems and to shed what doesn’t work. As parents, we are all bracing ourselves for the inevitable announcement that school will be canceled for the rest of the year. This means different things for every student and family, but overwhelmingly it means lack of valuable instruction time. Instead of admitting defeat and starting classes up again in August with students months behind where the standards dictate they should be, what if we examine more thoughtfully why those standards are in place and if they are truly benefiting our students? The parents in my community and I are beginning to ask, why do the kids have to wait until August to go back? There are numerous schools in the Tampa Bay area that operate on a year-round calendar, most commonly 45 school days on, three weeks off. This schedule provides a much more balanced year and eliminates the 12-week stretch of summer, replacing it with shorter breaks throughout the entire year. Maybe 2020-21 is the year to give a year-round school schedule a try. I’ve taught at schools across the country, including Berkeley Prep here in Tampa, and as the mother of three students, I can’t imagine there is a parent in Hillsborough County who wouldn’t be thrilled to hear that schools will reopen again before August, even if the school year looks different than we are accustomed to. We can be a much more flexible society than we imagine.
Abbie Patterson, Odessa
The virus is already here
Gov. Ron DeSantis has imposed a 14-day self-quarantine order on everyone flying to Florida from the New York City area. With 190 affected flights per day, if average capacity is 150 passengers and even if planes are mostly empty, that is still 5,000 possible virus carriers per day. He’d have done better to outright ban those flights. The virus is here already, and Florida likely has thousands with coronavirus who don’t even know they are sick. Protect your family. Stay home.
R.H. Parta, Bradenton
Take action now, then adjust
As I listened to the lack of action at the meeting of Hillsborough County’s emergency policy group, I worried that we are behind the eight-ball, only a couple of weeks behind Italy’s situation and, yet, we are studying what to do. Take action, modify as you go, but start moving. A stay-in-place order is one thing that can significantly help. Do it.
Dave Smolinski, Sun City Center
The cost of doing business
As the number of coronavirus cases skyrockets, President Donald Trump is leaning toward allowing the virus to run its course. From a cold, calculated monetary point of view, this means the people who will die are just the cost of doing business in America.
Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg
The cure vs. the disease
As a 76-year-old retiree, I fully support the president’s position to reopen our economy except in those hardest-hit areas. I do not want to see our economy destroyed by continuing the shutdown so that my children and grandchildren cannot enjoy the good life and, especially, retirement that I have been blessed with. While I realize this puts my life at greater risk due to my age, I am willing to accept it as it is to benefit the whole. That is the American way.
John Slaughter, Clearwater