The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Remember your senior year of high school?
Finally made it to the top. Sense that your childhood is ending. Wondering what will come next? For those college bound, finally being able to feel like you can just enjoy yourself and make the most of every moment. For everyone, remembering those crazy fun times with friends and in the classroom with your favorite teachers and at the games.
Finally getting the starring role in a play. Student athletes, competing for the last time, maybe forever. For musicians, experiencing the magic that comes when you blow into your horn and are suddenly surrounded by a wall of sound like no other, as you and your bandmates, after years of working together, have reached the top of your game
Well, you are lucky, because this year’s senior class may not have anything like that to remember. That is, unless we all start working together now to prevent new COVID-19 cases in Tucson. We have just enough time if we all start now. Cases are increasing exponentially because people are out and about and not wearing masks. It is that simple. Gov. Doug Ducey has delayed the start of school with the hope that we will all start doing a better job. Schools are anticipating starting online. Unless things change, this year’s seniors could spend most of the school year in their bedrooms.
Since so many of us have the virus and do not know it, we are spreading it everywhere we go. Sprinkling it like fairy dust on others, including the vulnerable. But even those who are not medically vulnerable are affected by this. As the number of people infected increases, the danger of becoming infected when in groups rises, and the possibility an otherwise healthy kid will be the one who develops that weird, life threatening syndrome that follows mild COVID-19 infections increases, too.
That 5-year-old who was so excited to be starting school like his big sister, won’t. The young girl who found school a safe haven has nowhere to turn. Teachers with legitimate concerns about their well-being and that of their families may have to choose between being forced back into an unsafe classroom situation or walking away from a job — a calling — that they love.
But please take a moment and consider a different outcome. If, for the next four weeks, we stop hanging out in groups, acting like life is normal, and start wearing masks whenever we have a chance of being within 6 feet of others, estimates say that by mid-August, the number of people becoming infected with COVID-19 in Arizona will drop below levels we had in mid-March, back when this all started.
What a great relief this would be for all of us. And kids could go back to school with much greater safety. We have just enough time if we start now. But we all need to do it. So, do it for the kids. Please.
Janet Funk is a physician and concerned parent of high school seniors, with fond memories of her own high school years.
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