• Austin Simcox

Listen to the experts—delay the school year

If I could pick one word to describe my approach to good government it would be listening. I've done my best to make that apparent in my campaign. Good government requires elected officials who know how to listen to their constituents and also to the experts.

Our elected officials don't know everything, nor should we expect them to. However we should expect them to seek out reliable information and to act on it. In our current climate of hyper-partisanship, we too often see elected officials who act based on party talking points or fear of retribution from party's most vocal extremists. This is the opposite of what we need.

The current debate surrounding school re-opening is an example of this. Our governor and many members of the Legislature are pushing for a return to normal in our school system, but our teachers (the experts) are calling for the opposite! This week, the Utah Education Association (the state's largest teachers union) called for a delay to the start of the school year. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Utah has the nation’s largest class sizes and many educators fear that even with fewer

kids, they won’t be able to appropriately distance in classrooms, which could lead to outbreaks. Others say their districts aren’t doing enough to protect them, with many teachers considered high-risk for serious complications and death from the virus because of their age or health conditions."

A significant amount of teachers (including myself) are speaking out and our elected officials need to listen. After all, teachers are professionals. Who knows their students better than a teacher? Who knows better how the dynamics of mask-wearing and social distancing will affect a learning environment than a teacher? Who knows how to keep their students safe better than a teacher?

Listening to the experts and delaying the school year by several weeks may literally be a life or death difference for our students. It will allow Utah a chance to get our case counts down. It will also allow teachers more time to prepare to face the unique challenges of the coming school year. Of course this won't be an end-all solution; we'll need to pair it with the advice from experts in other fields. Some of this advice includes:

  • Mask mandates

  • Social distancing

  • Economic stimuli and protections for individuals and businesses

  • Employment help

We are certainly in uncharted territory. That makes it even more crucial that we listen to the experts. In this case, the experts are asking for a delay to the school year. Let's listen and act accordingly. Our students deserve better.

When elected, I can't promise that I will have all the answers. However I certainly can promise to listen to the people that do. Vote for leaders who know to listen.


© 2020 by Austin for Utah.