Maria Lisboa, a Puerto Rican mom who settled with her family in Oregon, found the restrictions imposed by Governor Kate Brown to be extremely damaging to her child. She did not sit idle, but took drastic action.
"When people talk about kids they tend to not talk about the most impacted kids," Lisboa said. "Teenagers are in the process of individuation, and peers matter more than parents at this age." Lisboa's son was a sophomore during the 2020-21 school year.
"My kid is a junior Olympian and is a kid with learning disabilities, and sports are his life, it adds value to his being," Lourdes said. "And when you're a teenager and you struggle with a subject on Zoom and the teachers aren't able to help you, and they take away sports, the one area where you excel, can you imagine?"
"I could see him drifting. It was scary."
The restrictions for Lisboa's son posed a greater risk than simply the removal of an educational structure. As an athlete, the shut down deprived her son of his biggest interest, and the pathway toward, hopefully, a college scholarship. Lisboa could see the lockdown taking a severe toll on not only her son's mental health, but that of other teens as well.
"I personally know three families that have lost their children to suicide in Oregon," Lisboa told The Post Millennial. "Every kid is different and every family is suffering, I think that high schoolers have so much more to lose, because there's so much more at stake, college applications, transitioning into adulthood.
As for remote learning, Lourdes said the school districts "expect you to be the educational para, the assistant, because then you have to proctor things for them."
"We are a Puerto Rican family, with college degrees. We are privileged," Lourdes said. "And we were able to pay a private track club, we were able to live without scarcity, and to be able to pay for things."
"Imagine the families who are working class, whose families don't speak English, and don't know to demand evaluations and to demand things, it's baffling to me how horrible, and now teachers unions are sending propaganda videos saying it's not a big deal, we'll catch up, let's not worry about the academics, it's much more than academics."
"Nobody's talking about the physical toll this is going to take," including eye problems, sitting and slouching, "not doing anything" fine motor skills, "much more complex than 'just a year of academics'"
It was enough for Lourdes to pick up and move, at the least until things change in Oregon. The family split up, she and her son went to Texas where schools were open. Lourdes believes that, in large part, the teachers' unions are behind the effort to keep schools closed.
"It irks me that they're minimizing and trivializing this, and by 'they' I mean the union," she said.
"I knew that he was failing, that he wasn't going to get any effective 504 accommodations, and he was truly drifting. He was getting irritable, more distant, despondent. He was disappearing on his bike for hours. We gave him the freedom, but I didn't know where he was. And usually I'm not concerned, he's a good kid, but things were different. Later on he told me he had suicidal ideas."
The move came in December. "What happened between November and December," Lourdes said, "is that Governor Brown gave another one of her press conferences, and she kept extending the emergency order. You could hear the reluctance in opening. They kept talking about the little kids only. Nobody ever mentioned high school." That's when she started looking at other options.
Texas schools "opened a window of hope." Lourdes checked it out, and right after Christmas, she said, "we packed up the car and we left."
Since they've gotten to Texas, Lourdes' son has thanked her over and over. And he's thriving. "I'm raising a man who is aware of women's sacrifices," Lourdes said with mother's pride.
Of the new school, she said "This school is completely open, full days, the campus is closed to anyone but staff and students." A statewide mask mandate was in effect when they arrived though it's since been lifted. Even so, the teachers union still enforced the mandate.
"He's still masked at school," Lourdes said. "Lots of teachers have been vaccinated." Even so, "Texas is much more open," she said. "He's taking track" again, and they're outdoors, not masking while running."
"This is the deal," Lourdes said, "I've traveled through 5 states, from Oregon through Texas, I've stopped at every convenience store, a different hotel every night, my son has been going to school, we do not mask outdoors at all, and here we are nobody has gotten sick."
Of the 3,660 students enrolled in the new Texas school district, there have been "only 9 cases among students." Lourdes noted that the school "doesn't tell you if it's sick or symptoms, but the fact is the school is running less than .5 percent, that's no reason to close the school."
"Pediatricians should be held responsible for the level of fear," she said, "they're afraid to breathe freely, afraid to smile. Everyone seems so afraid of Fauci and his CDC honchos, and this is not going to kill the majority of people, and the vaccine should be there for people who are at risk, not pushed on everyone."
"I'm not afraid of getting covid. I'm not afraid."
The school district has not returned a request for comment.
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