When COVID first reared its ugly head in March of 2020 and we began to learn the recommended public health mitigation strategies, one specifically got my full attention. It was “open windows and doors” to improve airflow and circulation. As a school nurse and family member of victims and survivors of gun violence, the first thing I thought about was school safety. In school, we lock windows and doors as a safety strategy in case of active shooters.
Gun violence prevention met COVID safety protocols in the halls of our nation’s school buildings and they were in direct opposition to each other. Which do we follow? Where will we feel safe in school, because the underlying message is about safety, which feels unattainable right now.
I first raised this issue last summer in a blog post and during testimony that I gave to the New Jersey Assembly Education committee. The committee chair publically admonished me for raising the issue and interrupted my testimony by telling me (I am paraphrasing), “Now don’t bring guns into this discussion.” My response was (paraphrasing) “With all due respect sir, I work in a district where community gun violence impacts school safety and we do need to lock windows and doors.” The chairperson was left with little to say back to me, but suffice it to say, it was a contentious exchange, one that I will not forget.
Here are some examples of how these worlds have collided, so I ask you, my valued readers, which is it; open or close windows and doors?