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Ross: It’s time to start balancing science of reopening with our needs

A first grade student at the Green Mountain School waits to leave class at the end of the day on Feb. 18, 2021, in Woodland, Washington. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

A line from a New York Times story caught my eye recently. The story is about parents in the Philadelphia area who are desperate to get their kids back into school (like just about every other parent by now).

It mentions Aquené Tyler, a hair stylist in North Philadelphia, who was unhappy with her child’s public school even before the pandemic. Now, after a year watching her kids getting lonely and depressed – to the point that her eighth grader has to Zoom with a counselor – she is going to move to Florida.

It’s where her niece lives, but it’s also where the Republican administration is requiring in-person school, five days a week.

The Times story goes on to highlight several minority parents like Aquené who are leaving Democratic strongholds because they know the key to success is education, and if their state can’t provide it, they intend to find one that will.

I recall saying a while back that parents and teachers ought to have a choice: Find teachers and parents ready to return to in-person classes, and pair them up in a building with lots of open windows.

But what about “the science,” you say?

Well, obviously “the science” is important, but if you’re waiting for “the science” to give you a guarantee for this present predicament, you’ll be waiting a long time. Because science is not about guarantees – it’s about statistics: It’s about the chances that “Thing One” will happen as opposed to “Thing Two.” It’s expressed in percentages, not promises.

And at some point, all that talk about “the science” sounds more patronizing than scientific, especially when the people you think you’re helping don’t see it as help.

Listen to Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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