Schools’ deadly dilemmas come via Arizona’s COVID-19 spike

Nov 10, 2020, 1:15 PM | Updated: 2:54 pm
Kindergarten teacher Maggie Peterson reaches around a safety shield while giving a reading test to ...
Kindergarten teacher Maggie Peterson reaches around a safety shield while giving a reading test to a student at Stark Elementary School on October 21, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

As we contemplate a big spike in the number of coronavirus cases in Arizona, I would like us to consider some other numbers while deciding whether to close our schools again.

Those numbers are: 111 and 43.

  • 111 (according to the Centers for Disease Control) is the number of Americans aged 0-17 who have died from COVID. That’s less than 0.05% of the US’ total coronavirus-caused deaths. Nine Arizonans under the age of 20 have died from COVID.
  • 43 is the number of Arizona teens who have taken their own lives during the pandemic. When you compare those suicides to Arizona’s COVID-caused deaths among children, it’s an almost 5/1 ratio.

This year’s 43 teen suicides are six more than Arizona had last year.

Six more, so far.

I say “so far” because there’s more than a month and a half to go before 2020 ends. And mixed into those weeks will be untold missed opportunities for kids to confide in their favorite uncle, aunt or grandparent because they won’t be here for the holidays.

If schools close down again, the potential for more teen suicides surely goes up and the mental health of all our children goes down.

I’m hoping and praying – and sweating bullets over my kids’ school staying open because my kids are thriving thanks in large part to their amazing teachers. Teachers who are even more amazing because they are essentially teaching two classes at the same time: the physically present students and the online learners.

Because kids aren’t at great risk from COVID, the biggest school district dilemmas arise from keeping schools open to keep kids mentally healthy while keeping teachers, staff and the larger community physically healthy.

Nationally recognized infectious disease specialist Dr. Simone Wildes told Jayme West and me this morning that school districts need to “make sure that schools are equipped [and] staff have all the necessary equipment in order to keep everyone safe.”

While stating that districts need to consider positivity rates within their own communities while making decisions about school closures, she also said that the mental health of our children needs to be top of mind because, “at this time they’re really very vulnerable so we really have to try to keep them in school.”

Some school districts are trying to decide whether to use their county’s case numbers or look at the number of cases within a zip code to decide on closing the entire district or whether to close individual schools.

When you factor in the large number of kids crossing school boundaries within their own home districts and still others coming from completely outside district lines, it becomes harder and harder to make these decisions.

As I argue to (safely) keep my kids’ school open, I have to acknowledge this once again: Students, parents, teachers and especially school administrators are facing beyond-tough scenarios and questions — and they aren’t finding any good answers.

That’s because, right now, only slightly-less-worse answers actually exist.

Jim Sharpe

(YouTube Screenshot/Mark Brnovich for Senate)...
Jim Sharpe

Arizona AG Brnovich hedges bet on vaccine mandates for businesses

Some Republicans' lack of trust in COVID-19 vaccines is reason for Arizona Attorney General and U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Brnovich's burying of a decision that says private businesses can require the shots, writes KTAR News host Jim Sharpe.
2 months ago
(Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)...
Jim Sharpe

President Biden, don’t just TELL us you heart us on Valentine’s Week

President Joe Biden's kind words about Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey were sweet, but more vaccine doses would show true commitment, says KTAR News host Jim Sharpe.
9 months ago
(AP Photo)...
Jim Sharpe

GOP needs ‘restraining order’ on bad boyfriend Donald Trump

For the sake of the GOP's future, KTAR News host Jim Sharpe says that Senate Republicans need to do their part and vote to impeach Donald Trump.
9 months ago
(AP Photo)...
Jim Sharpe

After 4 years, Trump’s legacy boils down to last two months

After his latest attempt to make America his own image failed Wednesday, KTAR News host Jim Sharpe says Donald Trump's lasting legacy will be his conduct since he lost the November election.
10 months ago
Jim Sharpe

Politicians: Put me in the Christmas spirit by following your own advice

KTAR News host Jim Sharpe is heeding officials' advice about avoiding holiday gatherings and travel, so why can't they?
10 months ago
(Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP, File)...
Jim Sharpe

The ‘Fauci Effect’ vs. the ‘Cardinals Effect’

KTAR News host Jim Sharpe says that Dr. Anthony Fauci has done the impossible during the pandemic -- prioritized public health while keeping President Trump mostly happy.
10 months ago

Sponsored Articles

PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
Sweet James

Best fall road trips to take on a motorcycle

Autumn in Arizona brings the beauty of color-changing leaves and a relief from summer heat. It’s one of the most pleasant times to explore the outdoors, especially on a motorcycle.

More stroke patients eligible for acute treatment, thanks to research

Historically, patients underwent acute stroke treatments according to strict time guidelines. But thanks to recent advancements in stroke research, more patients are becoming candidates for clot-busting drugs and endovascular therapy at specialized centers like Barrow Neurological Institute.
Schools’ deadly dilemmas come via Arizona’s COVID-19 spike