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Commentary: Emilie Springer - What can the community do to support a return to in person education?

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Emilie Springer of Homer, addresses the concerns of students and their parents trying to make remote learning work, and every citizen's responsibility to act in the interest of the good health of the community. 

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of KBBI staff, board or volunteers. If you would like to respond to this commentary, or comment on any subject of local interest, email Commentaries must be submitted in writing and be less than three minutes in length.


This is Emily Springer. On Wednesday morning, I sent an email to a few community council members, some local educators and media personnel, other concerned parents and friends. Basic question. What can we quickly do to close or ask for restrictions with more local establishments? 

If the public schools are mandating remote learning, some local places, the public library, the Pratt Museum, Homer Council on the Arts and others are providing space for meeting with the requirement of practical, prudent health policies to accommodate social time through the current state of the world and a health pandemic. Some organizations are doing it in unique, thoughtful ways that still provide a physical opportunity to share community events.

For example, Pier One's, ticket scheduling and spacing for their recent outdoor showing, Haunted Shakespeare, or Bunnell's, Inspiration and Adaptation, Friday zoom talks. Other places are not showing support of how to lower COVID case numbers.

School closure is extremely challenging for everyone. For many reasons, there are so many ways to fill in the difficulties from many perspectives, students, faculty, and staff, parents, and the community in general.
What happens when a family has several young people with school requirements, but aren't old enough to stay home alone while a parent works? If home alone, can a computer really monitor what the young person is doing? What if there isn't enough space in the home?

What if the family is opposed to eight or more hours, a day of screen and digital technology time?

But what can the community of Homer do to support and return to public in-person education?
There is one thing: lower COVID case numbers in the southern part of the Kenai Peninsula.

How to do that has become obvious, constantly repeated and recommended  public information since the beginning of the pandemic.
Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay six feet apart. Practice social distancing. Avoid large gatherings. 

Structured, credible health agencies provide this practical information for us at all levels of community:
Homer's South Peninsula  Hospital, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the United States Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization. Take a look at the dashboard on the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine website. See what the United States looks like in COVID cases, in the context of the rest of the world.

I phrase it in one word to my children when we leave the house:  Masks.   
Please follow the guidelines we have available. Put a mask on. Lower our COVID numbers. 
Let's help open our schools to benefit everyone in the community.

COVID-19 CommentaryCOVID 19Emilie Springer