Tomorrow is the first day of school for our students. It is not what we had hoped, we will be remote for now. It is not what we had planned, we spent a good chunk of the summer working towards a hybrid model that would allow some face to face instruction. It is not what we know is best in terms of learning for our students, but safety supersedes everything else. For right now, this is what we have, it’s not ideal and not what we had imagined.
How we have arrived here is a combination of many things that feel like they are out of our control. I guess the real question is are they really? We did not have a crystal ball in the spring to look into the future and predict that we would be returning to school remotely. In fact, we were told to pack up for two weeks and we would be back on March 30th. Well, today is September 7th, and we are still not back. As of this moment, we don’t have a specific date to reopen school buildings, but learning will resume on Tuesday, September 8th.
You see, buildings did close in March, but learning did not end. It looked and felt different, and it was not ideal, but learning did continue. Our families and communities took a big hit, our businesses did as well, and so has our country. As we sit on the edge of another election, I can’t help but wonder had we had a national response to this deadly pandemic, would we be here, unable to safely open schools? Yes, I am getting political, because nursing is political. We have a license to touch people, that is actually pretty radical.
Nursing could be a powerful group, we are after all, four million strong. Imagine if we stood our ground for the public health of our country. Alexander Hamilton is credited for saying “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.” Has nursing fallen for silence? Why are we silent, when our country is literally in pieces? On this Labor Day, 2020, a year that we would all like to forget, let’s take a stand for public health.
It is our moral imperative to speak out when we see things that are dangerous. Marginalizing science and evidence is dangerous. Let’s speak out when we see injustice, Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous communities are impacted by COVID-19 more than any others because of racial inequities and social structures that were built to create deep divisions.
We have a president who stokes the flames of White Supremacy with conspiracy theories and false narratives that this pandemic will disappear. He touts drugs and treatments that have no validity and promises a vaccine before the election that may be released without the testing rigor that is necessary for public trust. Our public institutions like the CDC and FDA are under undue influence from a corrupt administration that has dismantled our democracy.
We are a fragile and broken country. My heart hurts when I examine where we are and how we got here. Lillian Wald presciently said, “People rise and fall together. All of us who have worked together (referring to the Henry Street Settlement House) have worked not only for each other but for the cause of human progress.” It is a reminder that our actions and the impact of our inactions have long term consequences. Nursing, will you take a stand for the health of our nation? Public health is calling, will you answer the charge?
Each of us whole and worthy,
Poverty is a social issue.
There is power in bridging differences.
In times of need, act.