James Gang 2.0

James Gang 2.0

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Just as Soon as School Starts...

Photo: Getty Images

I watched the Governor's press conference from last Thursday because, yes, I was that bored. And I have to watch him so I can try to predict what policy curveball will come our way next.

Here, you should put yourself to sleep, too...

The Guv is sounding a lot like Weld County saying that it is a matter of local control. It got interesting when I reporter from Chalkbeat hit him with a central planning quandary (fast forward to 29:36 in the video). The Guv and the director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sent a letter to school districts last week. In classic Polis doublespeak, the letter basically says that we respect your right to make the decision that is right for your local schools. But we sent you "science-based" data that shows you should mask your kids. But make up your own minds. But you should probably mask. We're from the government and we're here to help.

Here's that letter...

So the young reporter asks the guv a two-parter. 1) If you believe in local control, why did you send the letter? And if you believe the kids should be masked, why not issue an order. That hit him in his centrally-planned, state-controlled heart. That's the difference between people like the guv and people like me. I identify a problem, study the problem, and offer government resources to businesses and organizations who request them. The Guv identifies a problem and thinks that no other entity than the biggest, most central government can solve it with a one size fits all solution. Bless his centrally-planned, state-controlled heart. He just can't help himself because he knows better than you how to solve a problem.

It was with part two of our young Chalkbeat reporter's question that really gut-punched the Guv. "We've had school districts that said they would not enforce quarantines and they would not report cases to the state health department..."

  • "Well, quarantine protocols - we give the best guidance to the district, and it's up to them to implment..." Careful, Guv, you're sounding like Weld County - which is a good thing, if you like freedom and liberty and all that constitutional jazz...
  • "We do require reporting of COVID." "That is the law. That is unambiguous."

HERE is the Chalkbeat reporter's article.

Enter those rebels, District 49...

Located in Peyton, Colorado, just to the north and east of Colorado Springs, District 49 said, "Thanks for finally saying it about local control, guv, we're gonna take it." Well, that's my assumption, anyway. Read their actual words HERE. Frankly, the linked document is brilliant and states what so many parents with kids here in NoCo already know and are starting to stand up and demand that local school districts recognize...

In District 49, we saw first-hand the damaging effects of an overzealous quarantine regimen during the 20-21 school year. Despite aggressive masking, tracing, and quarantine protocols, our community still endured multiple waves of variants and transmission, including widespread displacement into online learning. Ultimately, not a single child in our district died from COVID, and very few required hospitalization—fewer than in a typical flu season.
Meanwhile, our larger community lost 15 youth to suicide, and the Colorado Children’s hospital issued a “State of Emergency” for youth mental health, declaring in May that, “we are seeing our pediatric emergency departments and our inpatient units overrun with kids attempting suicide and suffering from other forms of major mental health illness."

The quandary for the guv is that ultimately, local control is just that - local - and the best government is the government closest to home. That close government can make decisions best for the immediate people they serve, not having to abide by some statewide solution. District 49's letter to parents continues...

Far from ignoring science or safety, we have determined that overreacting to the possibility of transmission has been bad for learning, bad for mental health, and ultimately far worse for our students than the low-level medical risk of a virus that rarely causes any significant issues for children. As our county health department said in their community update on August 17, “While children can contract COVID-19, the local rates of hospitalization remain much lower than other age groups.” This insight is confirmed by Colorado hospitals, which indicate that child infections with both RSV and Rhinovirus (common cold) are more prevalent than COVID-19.

Leadership and inspiration can come from the smallest of places, in this case, District 49. They no doubt responded to their community, stood up to the Guv, and said, "How big of you to grant us local control. We'll take it." We've seen that kind of courage out of District 6 in Greeley. I hope more local school districts have the courage to do the same.

The James Gang 2.0 Podcast for August 23, 2021

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