Governor Kate Brown’s announcement this week that there will no in-person classes until certain coronavirus testing metrics are met will not be met with universal acclaim.

Students have been kept from the classroom since March, with most continung their education virtually. The long-term effects of the pandemic will linger in all sectors of American life for years. The effect on our children will be devastating for society as a whole for the forseeable future.

The decision to close schools surely was not made lightly or rashly. The decision won’t sit well with those who believe COVID-19 is something less than the common flu. Of course, COVID-19 is not the common flu. Science is learning new things about the virus every week. Unsettling are reports of the long-term damage COVID-19 can do the body.

Government’s number one job is to keep the nation’s citizens safe. Orders to close or limit businesses, gatherings or schools should be not be viewed as some political move but as a necessary step to keep our people safe, especially our children.

The immediate concern is for households whose children have to be home for months and will be until at least November—unless the metrics change, allowing for school to reopen sooner.

A perfect confluence of no school and the end of the government’s $600 a week in extra unemployment benefits will cause panic across the region. Those who are still working at least have income coming into the home, but caring for their at-home, school-age children will create a challenge many are unprepared to face.

Congress is getting close to approving a second stimulus package that will put another $1,200 into the hands of Americans. That one-time payment will offer an economic respite, but will it be enough?

We know that COVID-19 has turrned the world upside down. Every resource from every level of government needs to be focused on lessening the strain on families. While it is necessary to spend trillions of dollars to give assistance to businesses and families, shouldn’t Congress shift some money from other budgeted items? 

Shouldn’t Oregon shift some of money in its $85 billion biennial budget to help head off the financial disaster families will face when they have to decide between working and caring for their kids who are not in school?

COVID-19 is an emergency and we need to appropriate all available funds to deal with it. When it comes to the sustainability of our families and the safety of our children is any price too high?

In a word, no.

  — LAZ