MISSOURI, USA — The Missouri National Education Association responded to comments made by Governor Mike Parson on a radio show about students returning to school in the fall.
Gov. Parson did an interview with radio host Marc Cox on KFTK 97.1 FM on July 17.
“These kids have got to get back to school. They’re at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will, and they will when they go to school, they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re not going to have to sit in doctor’s offices. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it,” Parson said in the interview.
On Tuesday, Missouri National Education Association President Phil Murray called Gov. Parson's statement "inaccurate and reckless" and one that "should concern every Missourian."
More than 35,000 public school teachers, coaches, administrators and other faculty members are members of the Missouri National Education Association. According to its website, the association's goal is to "keep the promise of a quality public education through a great public school for every child."
The full statement is as follows:
“Governor Parson’s statement demonstrates a callous disregard for the suffering of children and the safety of the parents, grandparents, educators, and students that will be put at risk if schools are reopened with improper plans and protections. When the Governor says that children are, 'gonna get over it' he forgets that some children won’t. He forgets that some children will be left with life-long health problems and some children will lose their lives. He forgets the parents, grandparents, educators, and other children who will become sick and will suffer unnecessarily.
The Governor’s inaccurate and reckless statement should concern every Missourian. Yes, reopening schools is vital to the health and well-being of our children and communities, but it must be done responsibly. That includes ensuring our educators are given the desperately needed resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Educators are constantly told to do more with less at a time when our schools need the necessary resources to protect students. Already this year communities have seen over $250 million in cuts to local schools all while the Governor found $15 million to advertise Missouri as a tourist destination in the midst of a pandemic.
It is time for elected leaders to listen to frontline educators, parents, and students who are working to develop comprehensive plans to keep our students, educators, and families safe.”
Some school districts have released plans for returning to school while others are holding off. Parents are also making plans for homeschooling if necessary.
Dr. Alex Garza, leader of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said safely reopening schools in the fall will come down to more than just planning for school districts.
Dr. Garza said one of the most important factors in reopening schools safely will be limiting the spread of the coronavirus in the community over the next few weeks.
"The way to send our kids and our teachers and our support staff back to school safely is to decrease virus in the community," he said. "It can't just all be on the doorstep of the schools."