Fazio: My opponent tried to close CT schools behind our backs, I want them open safely

Submitted by Ryan Fazio

One of the most visceral, widespread opinions I have heard from the thousands of voters I’ve met on the campaign trail is how happy most parents are that their kids are back to school in person this fall. Local officials, educators, parents, and kids deserve a lot of credit for making it go smoothly thus far. About 82% of families in Greenwich, Stamford, and New Canaan chose to send their kids back to school in person. Those who prefer their kids do fully remote learning, should and do have that option.

There has been no significant community spread tied to in-person schooling. Local officials in Greenwich have told me that around a dozen staff or students have tested positive for COVID this year, but none
contracted it in school. In New Canaan, they say less than 10 have tested positive, but none contracted it in school. A Brown University study shows that the infection rate among hundreds of thousands of students in school around the US is just 0.13% and 0.24% for staff, compared with a 2.6% rate for the general population.

The opportunity cost of shutting kids in at home is enormous. Online-only schooling was not successful locally this spring, according to most of the parents I’ve spoken with, and the evidence across the state and country aligns with that. Kids can lose enormous social and intellectual development when they are not in school. And the ones who suffer most are the ones most in need of support—low income children, immigrant children, and those with special needs. We needed to give families at least the option for full in-person schooling.

That evidence aligns with the scientific consensus I cited in July when I called for opening schools to in-person learning this fall. The American Academy of Pediatrics said that “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” I applauded the governor, local officials, and educators who worked hard to get kids back in school this summer and fall. COVID remains very serious and we need to promote mask-wearing, reasonable restrictions on large indoor gatherings, testing, tracing, and protection for the most vulnerable. We also need to balance that with people’s livelihoods, mental health, freedoms, and kids’ education.

Unfortunately, my opponent for state Senate, Alex Kasser, rejected the scientific evidence and called for closing all Connecticut schools to in-person learning this fall. In an August 14th letter to the governor that
she co-signed with six left-wing state Senators, she said that “opening schools is not the answer.” It concluded, “…We ask that you re-examine your decision [to open schools], keep schools closed, and put all your efforts into effective distance learning…”

I was shocked when I randomly read in an upstate newspaper that my opponent tried to close schools in Connecticut. No one I spoke to was aware of it locally. When I asked local officials across our district, including Board Of Education members, they were also shocked—she never even alerted them. She also never alerted voters. Her announcement was not put on her website or social media or announced to local press. If she got her way, it would have caused a major interruption in kids’ and parents’ lives this fall—and yet she didn’t even communicate her initiative to the district.

It’s one thing to be proven so demonstrably wrong about a major issue; it’s another to totally fail in communicating with your partners in government and constituents. It’s about time we had a state senator who worked well with others and communicated openly with voters. I will work hard to do that the next two years for the people of my home district if you elect me to the state Senate November 3rd .

Editor’s note: This letter was submitted in advance of GFP’s Oct 26 12:00 noon deadline for letters about the election and candidates on the Nov 3, 2020 ballot.