Covid In New York’s North Country: An American Mother Has Had Enough
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Earlier, by Michelle Malkin: Give Them Hugs and Let Them Play

Schools are reopening, more or less, depending on where you live, as America slides farther into the Covid Twilight Zone. There is now a hodgepodge of distance/computer/real-time/part-time scheduling that makes teachers and parents want to grind their teeth into fine sand.

I live in a small farming community in northern New York. After a month of uncertainty about New York State rules and regulations that change nearly every day, the local elementary school finally decided to stagger classes: Monday, Wednesday and every other Friday, every other week for some students.  On the odd weeks, the other pupils attend classes Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Saturday.

One of my neighbors is a teacher and is going out of her mind trying to figure out how to manage her own children, two of whom have differing schedules. Her own schedule now conflicts with that of her youngest daughter, who will need childcare after she gets home from school.

Once they arrive at the school, all the children will form into a long line, six feet apart, to be tagged and gagged for Covid before being led military-style into their classrooms. Some kids, mostly the older ones, can opt out of school for home-schooling, whatever that’s going to be. My teacher friend certainly is not going to be at home to manage classes or to make lunch for her own offspring.

My hairdresser’s daughter tells me that once she has taken a seat inside an inscribed circle that surrounds her desk, she can take the mask off. Boxed lunches are encouraged.

Nobody seems to know what happens if a kid comes to school without a lunch, though, as many children will. Here in the depressed North Country, a lot of low-income families depend on subsidized school lunch programs.

As for “distance learning,” many of these same families do not own a computer, much less have access to the internet. What are they supposed to do? What this means is that a great number of these low-income kids are going to have no schooling at all. When the authorities panic over a “second wave,” the schools will probably shut down again.

Even before the current crisis, I was worried about the educational system. Last winter, I visited a charter school with my son in Texas, back before the Covid pandemic scare. Charter schools were supposed to be an improvement on the degraded government schools. But this school reminded me more of a Gestapo approach to learning than a place where you would want to send your precious preschooler. The grim building looked like a prison, and the walls inside were painted dark gray, as were the rows of lockers and pegs that lined the halls.  There was a large poster hanging in the lobby area: “If you see something, say something.” Students’ artwork (if colored-in photocopies qualify as art) hung eight feet off the floor, “so the kids won’t touch them.”

Students filed past me with one hand in the air and one behind. When I asked our guide about their raised hands, she said: “They are supposed to maintain social distance from one another.”  The expression now sounds disturbingly familiar. The playground was a bricked-in area with an iron railing on top. The ground was covered with plastic grass of some sort, and the only place that was not bricked in was the sky.

I looked up and saw one lone pigeon. There were horizontal windows arranged bunker style in each classroom that faced into the play yard. No windows opened on the outside world. Many years ago, I visited Comstock Prison, where my college roommate’s father was a prison guard. He agreed to show us around outside the place. The charter school had a similar feel.

The tour guide’s voice recalled me from my flashback. She was saying that the kids were allowed 20 minutes for recess and two opportunities to stretch for 10 minutes every day. Unless they were being disciplined, that is, for such infractions as speaking out of turn, touching something, not paying attention, or not finishing a project.

“Are they punished?” I asked. “Time out,” the guide said. She pointed to a room with a glass wall. I could see inside. There was a little boy sitting on the floor with his knees hunched up to his chest. I think he was crying. I know I would have been.

But my point is this: what are we allowing to be done to our children? Are you willing to allow your children or grandchildren be treated like prisoners? Do you really feel all right about sending a small child into a classroom where he must wear a mask, not interact with others, and be subjected to psychological torture?

And it’s all very well for those of you who can afford day care or have wits enough to homeschool your kids, but what about those who don’t have the intellectual or financial resources to do that? What about those families?

I am speaking to all of us but especially to the women who brought these precious children into the world. We must do something to put a stop to this madness.

Are you really willing to let these demonic technocrats and politicians put masks on your little ones and ram needles into your baby’s arm?  To do what, protect them from what—the next engineered panic? So that they can to back to their prison-school, or the grocery store, and social distance from one another, never to be able to play or create or move without being watched, monitored and restricted?

Remember the children I saw in the hall that day, the ones with their hands held in the air as if they were in a Hitler Youth parade? Not one of them looked directly at me when they passed by.  They looked like zombies.

What to do?

Here’s a suggestion. Start right where you are, right now. Don’t wait for somebody else to do something, someone who you think is brighter, or more talented, or has more money, or is better connected. Do you really trust the teachers’ unions, or the World Health Organization, or the Centers for Disease Control, or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to act in the best interest of your sons and daughters?

I’m doing what I can do in my little corner of the country. I decided that what I could do was to teach art classes—small classes, of course, in my art studio out here in the middle of nowhere.

I am teaching children to paint and create. We are doing all kinds of projects, painting landscapes, turning old buttons into necklaces, making paper birds out of stuffed paper bags, and washing our hands a lot.

Making art is messy. Everyone is welcome, whether they can afford materials or not. Nobody is left out. Just last week, the children said that I was the best art teacher they had ever had, and that they had decided to keep me.

Truth be told, I am probably the only art teacher they have ever had, but no matter. Our children are our future. They’re too important to be left in the hands of bureaucrats and clock-punchers and worse. I’m doing what I can, and so can you.

It’s a big world out there, though. What will you do?

Emma Crandall [email her] is an artist and an author of children's books under various noms de plume. She lives in the North Country.





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