Report from Louisiana: In-Person School is Better

By: Pat Austin

As hard as it is to admit this, I might have been wrong.

While some school districts across the country have remained closed, and while they attempt to reopen in coming weeks, I have come to the decision that having kids in the classroom, in person, is better for them.

In August, I was terrified of returning to school in this pandemic — and the numbers then were so much lower then than they are right now. I was certain we were all going to get Covid-19, that classes would be hopeless because of high absenteeism, and that schools would shut back down two weeks after opening. I was scared I’d be constantly battling kids who didn’t want to wear a mask. Everyone would see that this was a failed experiment to reopen during a pandemic and we would be sent back home for virtual learning.

“We should stay virtual!” I screamed into the void, terrified.

I was so wrong.

Is it a different kind of school year? Yes.

Have we seen cases of Covid? Absolutely.

Have we had multiple students and teachers in quarantine? Sure, we have.

Have staff members become gravely ill? Several, yes. Others, not so much.

Should we shut down again? No way.

Education has never been a one-size-fits-all endeavor and for many students, virtual classes do not work. I teach ELA in a Title 1 high school and many of my students do not have internet access or computers at home. When we shut down in spring 2020, so many kids slipped through the cracks and never logged into their lessons. Many had little to no support at home.

I know now that these kids need to be in school. I see the benefit every single day. They need the support and the relationships that we give them. They need the structure. They need the socialization. They need so much more than we are able to give, even outside of a pandemic.

It’s true that I spend most of the day cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, computers, desks, you name it (despite research that says Covid-19 is probably not spread that way.) And it is true that my classroom is crowded; we truly cannot social distance in the room; my student desks are about two feet apart. We wear masks and to be honest, the students comply better than some of the adults. Because my classroom windows do not open and there is no ventilation, I bought an air purifier. Maybe it helps.

Even though my students seem truly glad to be in school right now, I do worry about the toll all this might take on their mental health. So many people are without jobs right now and so many of them were in deep poverty even before the pandemic. Add that to the daily stress of sick family members, concern about becoming ill themselves, and worry about what the future holds, well, these kids are juggling a lot right now, just like their teachers and their parents.

Much of this is out of my control and I’ve had to accept that.

But, honestly, as far as classwork goes, not much has been different. In my tenth grade English classroom, we’ve read books, done gallery walks, written essays, analyzed literature, written narratives, basically all of the same things we would normally do. There has been less group work, but we have adjusted.

The bottom line is that kids are resilient. They adjust so much more easily than adults do.

There is growing concern that the new coronavirus variants, which are so much more contagious, will raise the number of cases in schools. This may be true, but it just means that we will increase our vigilance, keep our masks up, and distance as much as we can. We will be fine. Eventually, teachers in Louisiana will get vaccines.

In our district we still have a lot of parents opting for 100% virtual education for their children and I respect that choice. I will never vilify or criticize anyone for doing what they believe is best for their family and for their own health. If this pandemic has taught us nothing else, it should be that we ought to be civil and respectful to each other. But I would tell those parents that as teachers we are doing everything in our power to keep these kids safe.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

The Biden Administration Failures forces Nancy to Play Her Impeachment Card

One of the plays that Nancy Pelosi used when impeaching President Trump last year was holding the impeachment articles for a time when she thought she might get maximum advantage from them. Now word comes that later this morning Speaker Pelosi will be advancing them without much of a wait.

Given that in the first week we have seen job killing moves that have angered Democrat constitutions including unions and states strong in their column combined with the spectacle of National Guard Troops being treated so badly that there was a need to have Jill Bring two bags of cookies for a photo op (how they were supposed to be spread for thousands was not explained) the need to change the subject came a lot faster than anyone expected.

Now while I’ve already noted the Biden Administration having not needed the voters to gain power has no need to worry about offending these various democrat groups they are in power and is imunte to their complaints after all as Sarah Hoyt notes, what are those voters going to do vote him out?

Alas for the rest of the party this immunity doesn’t extend to all Democrat pols.

After all the ability to steal votes in Philly, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Detroit, Lansing, Pittsburgh and Madison doesn’t do a lot of good if you are a not in a Senate race in one of those states or in a house race outside of those districts where people might have an actual respect for a clean ballot.

So when in the first week of the Biden administration it became clear not only that Joe Biden was not up for governing (not that he’s doing so anyways) but that his administration was going to run roughshod over the voters, even voters that house and senate Democrats might need come election time, it became vital to change the subject.

So out comes the impeachment card which gives the left the one issue their are united on, absolute, irrational hatred of Donald Trump who unlike any other republican was not willing to have an election stolen from him without a fight, he might have lost that fight due to the fecklessness of State and Federal pols and judges but he still dared to make it.

So now Pelosi’s impeachment card is shot and now the Senate is discovering that while one or two deep state members who aren’t up for re-election for another six years would love to see it play, senators who saw how quickly the daughter of a vice president drew a primary challenge don’t want that repeated in their states.

So now the card is played, much earlier than they want and the resulting acquittal (assuming the trial of a private citizen by the senate passes constitutional muster) while making the left look weaker and Trump look stronger might just anger and distract their voters enough so they will be too buys complaining about Trump to notice when they open the next trap doors under them to appease their masters in China.

Closing Thought: Perhaps they should not have been so quick to deprive President Trump of a social media platform for the press to generate outrage from to distract the masses.