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Our children need to get back to school...

I am a mother of two boys. As with many of my friends and neighbors, the Long Beach Unified School District's decision to close school campuses was a very significant development in our lives. I understand why the decision was made, and support the School Board 100% because it was the right decision at the time.

But a lot has happened since then, there is more data from which new models have been created and based on all of that, I think it’s time to consider opening the schools this fall.

In our family, where both parents work outside the home in “essential” industries, we had to make some major adjustments. First, I had to figure out how I could work from home at least part of the day, each day, in order to help facilitate my younger son’s educational goals and expectations.

Second, like many in our community, I had to learn how to mitigate the learning loss that would come from my son being out of school, where presumably, he is learning from teachers who are trained on the topic and learning methods for kids his age. This has been one of the biggest challenges for me. Despite my best efforts, I know that my ability to learn these subjects with him and help him grasp the concepts is nowhere near where it needs to be in order for him to progress.

For the most part, I have very much enjoyed the process of learning alongside him, but, I am not sure how effective I have been in transferring knowledge or helping him retain information. I am a lawyer/councilwoman, my expertise is not in teaching or in the subject matter that is taught in middle school.

I say all of this about my own experience, but I am mindful of so many families where adjustments could not be made for a parent to be at home, where the learning environment may not be well-suited for learning, or where access to technology may be limited or non-existent. These children are experiencing learning loss at a much higher rate than even those who are home with well-intentioned, but limited, parental support and resources.

Third, it did not occur to me as essential when this first happened, but it’s so clear to me now. Our kids needs socialization and diverse perspectives in order to keep their own minds active and engaged. So many of the kids in our community have taken to social media, video games and TV shows to occupy their time in the last two months. This can only go on so long. Kids need activities and socialization in order to thrive. We cannot continue to isolate them, especially when there are ways that we can account for the pubic health concerns we have for their welfare and the welfare of others.

I am hopeful that LBUSD will partner with us parents to come up with ways that we can safely reintegrate these kids into the on-site school environment again. I am still hopeful that summer camps, in some form, will be allowed in Long Beach. That’s what I am advocating for.

If that can’t happen, then at least we should be planning to resume school. It’s time and our children have access to the same resources, in the same settings, with caring and knowledgeable teachers, who can help them stay on the right track for learning. Our kids need structure and predictability. My friend Dr. Matt Duggan recently shared with me (and the community) that these two things are critical in times of stress and anxiety. Learning in a structured and predictable environment is critical at this time of our history when so much remains uncertain.

LBUSD, please consider opening the doors of our schools once again. Let’s figure out how to do it safely and let’s let the true learning begin.

Suzie Price is in her second term as the City Council member representing the Third District.

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