The Million Dollar Illusion

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From the folly files comes yet another exasperating example of how millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent in schools without much, if any, return on investment as it relates to student achievement,  or in this case, student safety. 

 According to NBC News 5, Dallas ISD has spent almost 2 million dollars on hand sanitizer and a whopping 5 million dollars on sneeze guards in its effort to create a safe and clean environment for students to return to campuses during the pandemic.  I applaud Dallas ISD’s efforts to create and maintain a safe environment for students and faculty on its campuses.

Unfortunately, the outlay of cash being made is essentially for nothing. While hand sanitizer could be considered a good investment during the covered pandemic, 2 million dollars is a lot of money and should equate to measurable outcomes that justify the expense. The sneeze guards however, in my opinion, are a complete waste of money.  The sneeze guards do provide an immediate barrier that would block spittle or droplets of moisture of any type from reaching the surface being protected. However, it offers no safety as it relates to droplets in the air traveling up, over, around and below the barrier. Essentially, it is no different than the sneeze glass at a salad bar. That glass will stop some conversational moisture from contaminating the salad, however a cough or a sneeze will find its way around that partition. So essentially, the partition is giving the illusion of COVID-19 protection. 

The safety theatrics are insulting, a waste of time and money, and is not keeping students or teachers safe and healthy.  The plastic partitions serve the same purpose as the face shields many people often wear instead of masks. 

According to the CDC, the face shields are not recommended for use in the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks are suggested instead. If the plastic barriers serve the same purpose as the face shields which are discouraged by the CDC, why is Dallas ISD, or any school district anywhere, spending 5 million dollars on them?  Who are the purchasing officials who are making these decisions and who is signing off on them? This should give all education stakeholders a question or two to ask the officials charged with running our schools. Perhaps they can explain why such copious amounts of money are being wasted on measures we know won’t work to keep children and faculty safe. School districts depend heavily on blind faith to continue to make expenditures like this without ever having to answer to anyone about them or to experience any degree of accountability. While the scientists are toying around with the idea of wearing double masks in public to get control of COVID-19, millions of dollars are being spent on plastic barriers that won’t work at all to keep people healthy. If this sounds reasonable to you, spend another million dollars on dry erase markers. The plastic barriers are great for kids to draw on, but they are not good for much else in a pandemic.

Dr. Teresa Sanders
Dr. Sanders is an international bestselling author, education researcher and student and family advocate in the education setting. Dr. Sanders has presented at international education conferences and is the founder of Safari Small Schools, an innovative micro school in Canton, Texas. Dr. Sanders created Safari Small Schools to meet the needs of learners who aren’t thriving in the traditional classroom. Dr. Sanders can be reached at DrSanders@safarismallschools.com.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chalkboard Review team.

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