Republicans are using kids as political pawns — again
There is little doubt that the pandemic has exacerbated the fears parents have about their children’s well-being. The typical parental anxiety now comes with worries about the latest delta variant of COVID-19 —which appears to spread more easily in children than the initial coronavirus outbreak — questions on whether their children are going to have to wear masks when they go back to school, and anticipation for a yet-to-be approved vaccine for children under 12.
Over a year ago, Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir described the mad scramble to reopen schools without a vaccine or coherent safety standards as “a ‘Deer Hunter’-style game of Russian roulette, played blindfolded under conditions of complete chaos.” One year later, Donald Trump is out of the White House but Republican and Democratic executives alike are all rushing to reopen schools — even as children under 12 are still not cleared to be inoculated despite an 84% jump in the number of children contracting COVID-19 last week alone.
“No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a Covid-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization,” Abbott said in an executive order. “No person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or to mandate the wearing of a face covering.”
In Florida, the state school board backed DeSantis while using the pandemic to prop up charter schools with taxpayer funds, providing vouchers to students who face mask requirements. See the plan here? Schools become so unsafe and inhospitable that parents are forced to push their children into private schools. It’s a playbook as old as white flight from school desegregation under the guise of religious freedom. It’s why conservatives have spent the pandemic rehashing the culture wars on new fronts — so-called critical race theory in schools and trans students in sports — while preventing all of the measures that would have likely meant a much safer return to in-person learning this fall. Republicans are using children as political pawns again. This time it is most certainly a matter of life and death.