In response to Stephen Swensen’s letter in the October 2022, Vol. 17, No. 5 edition of the Crozet Gazette:
Mr. Swensen’s letter discusses a number of things, but I took particular umbrage with his notation about the, quote, “senseless 2020-2021 school closures” he mentions.
As an emergency department nurse, I would like to remind Mr. Swensen—and everyone—that the school closures that happened at that time were a desperate, last-ditch attempt to hold the healthcare system together, and to give the federal government the time to flex their unique logistical and planning capabilities to give those of us in emergency services the resources we needed to hold the line against a public health crisis unprecedented in our lifetimes.
That support never materialized, leaving our community largely on its own to navigate the pandemic. I personally begged Senator Mark Warner in August 2020 to give healthcare providers the resources we needed to be able to get kids back in school. I told him I could only speak for myself, but I felt that those of us in emergency services would “take it on the chin” to get kids back in school with that support behind us. He told me he was fighting the same battle I was; however, the federal administration at the time had no interest in providing that support, as they were terrified that doing so would reflect poorly on their management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the middle of an election year.
Charlottesville and Albemarle were asked to hold the line not just for our central Virginia community, but large swaths of Shenandoah, Southside, and Southwest Virginia as well. And we did—but at immense cost.
I ask only that reality be taken into consideration before writing off the sacrifices that were made by our community as being “senseless.”
Kellen Squire, RN
Dear Mr. Squire –
In a funny way, we both agree on a key point: our public leaders failed our children, and they suffered terribly due to school closures. On the other hand, many private schools had the courage to remain open without any increased harm to public health (reality check: it was known since summer 2020 that children were low risk for acquiring or spreading COVID-19). Hence my proposal to empower parents to choose what is best for their children.
I commend you and so many others in healthcare for their courage and sacrifice holding the line in a public health emergency. However, I see no connection between that and keeping kids out of school. It was at best a bad decision by those in power, and sadly a meaningless sacrifice for children and parents alike.
I am disappointed that you failed to disclose your political candidacy for the 55th House District and affiliation with the Democratic party – I had to find that out myself. It would have helped readers better understand your “reality.”