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School not safe enough

A single parent and essential worker during the pandemic, I worked with children and families in person and came home at night to my attention-starved children and helped one complete their two hours of “independent learning.”

Elementary-aged children aren’t developmentally capable of doing independent learning for two hours, so ill-equipped parents were expected to teach them. Unrealistic expectations for children and parents felt unbearable most days.

This school year, children are back in school, with parents complaining that they must wear masks. Honestly, I would send my kids to school in a spacesuit to be able to attend in person every day. Halfway into the school year, while returning from lunch, I am pulled over as police cars raced by headed toward the high school.

Consumed by an overwhelming fear in the pit of my stomach, I followed the last police car to the high school and witnessed multiple police departments had surrounded the school. I tried to breach their barrier to get to my child.

A gun never went off. I can’t explain the gratitude I felt. Thirty minutes of the unknown. I cried; my body shook uncontrollably; but I got to take him home that day. A month later, metal detectors were installed, and they are safe. Yet this week, I saw children enter multiple entrances, bypassing the metal detector.

Just three months and $237,000 later, our children are no longer safe. We can and must do better.

KARI MILLER

Champaign

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