Editorial: ‘We are up to this’ whether we like it or not
Updated as of Thursday, March 19, 2020 1:56 PM
Mary Newton, who is from Prescott, is living a challenge: Keeping her 9-year-old child busy and safe while our schools are closed.
She is a single mom and, while she does not like to, she has become dependent upon the schools, she said. They are her de facto day care.
Mary is among many parents who received the curveball this past weekend — that spring break would last at least through March 29 — two more weeks for a total of three weeks. She always struggles with child care during vacations, and this time it is the same.
“I wonder if the people making these decisions understand what this does to [us],” she said.
On March 14, when the Prescott and Humboldt unified school districts announced their closure because of coronavirus threats, HUSD Superintendent Dan Streeter spoke of “impacts” this would have.
It is regrettable, unfortunate and, moreover, unavoidable.
One impact involves parents needing to find care options, and another includes the students — more than 650 students do not have enough to eat. Their families live in poverty. Currently the Hungry Kids Project serves about 6% of the local public school students — sending them home on weekends with a backpack of food.
As a result, the schools are offering “to-go” meals for students.
Still another group impacted by coronavirus closures is made up of staff members. They might work for the schools or any number of the entities or businesses that have had to adjust this week because of the virus or edicts surrounding its spread.
But, if they don’t work, will they get paid? State and federal officials are making promises, but those don’t immediately put money into bank accounts.
Other unknowns include whether the school year will be extended. Answers are not available yet.
With 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, as of March 19 — with none in Yavapai County — and a handful of presumptive cases (people with symptoms but lacking positive test results), it is no surprise when officials say schools are closed “at least” through the next two weeks.
The idea is the closures will slow down the spread of the virus. It will give these entities a chance to deep clean surfaces.
But it steps up the flashing warning light for community leaders, politicians and health care workers. These are not easy times we are living in. Decisions must be made, health and safety are paramount, and caring for the sick is necessary.
Yet, Mary already knew that.
“We’ll get through this. We are up to this, resilient,” she concluded, with a tone in her voice saying she has no choice.
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