One of the most talked about topics today is the toll COVID-19 and the Delta Variant have had on the mental health of students. Schools have reopened and our children have returned to a new school year. However, for many students and parents, returning to school brought anxiety, angst and feelings of frustration. I know that these feelings were brought by distractions and interruptions to their daily lives and routines for all ages.
COVID-19 and the Delta Variant have caused stress, uncertainty and emotions in different ways to children. It is important to keep in mind that our children look to their parents, teachers and close relatives for guidance on how to cope and react to stressful events. Below are some suggested tips on how to help our children cope through these times:
• If your child has felt nervous about returning to school, after having experienced school closures and learning at home for months, it would help to have an honest conversation about their worries and concerns. For example, talk about some of the changes they may expect at school, the wearing of a mask and distancing themselves from their friends. Encourage them to think and write about other ways they can connect with their friends.
• Reassure in your talk the need for safety measures. This should not be only for very young children, but for older students who may have a different perspective on staying safe. Talk about why there is a need to wash their hands with soap or sneezing into their elbows.
• Keep positive outlooks. Let your child know that adults are working hard to protect them and keep them safe.
• Approach these talks with understanding. Let it be known that there is a lot of anxiousness about the virus. Ask your child to share what is being said by their peers. This gives you an opportunity to defuse rumors or inaccurate information.
• Be supportive. When parents and caregivers deal with COVID-19 and the Delta Variant in a calm and understanding way, they provide the support and reassurance that their child/children need at this time.
• Stay in touch with your child’s school. You need to know how the school is communicating with parents and students. Reach out to the teacher(s) and provide pertinent information on how to contact you in case of an emergency during these unpredictable times.
Encourage all children to verbalize their concerns, worries, what they are hearing about the virus, and especially their feelings. Remember, we are all in this together! Let us all do our part to keep our children safe and healthy.
When the United States census is taken every ten years, each lawmaking level of government is subject to the redrawing of electoral boundary lines based on census data. The process may change the number of positions or seats in local, state, regional and national lawmaking bodies. The reconfiguration of boundary lines may change the makeup of a political or voting district. This process is known as redistricting.
While redistricting is intended to be a positive move to ensure that all citizens have an equal and representative voice at each level of government, the process in America has long become tainted with political gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is the unfair political process of manipulating boundaries of electoral districts to favor one political party. One gerrymandering tactic known as “cracking” weakens the voting power of the opposition; it splits a natural geographic district comprised of like-minded citizens with common interests.
The Dunbar community is a prime example of a community of common interests, values and issues. Equally important, Dunbar has no natural divisions such as a body of water or a forest that may form a natural split. Therefore, when Dunbar is split, what emerges is a classic example of gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is cheating. Legislators in drawing boundaries are selecting their voters. It locks up power for one political party and advances excessive partisanship. It dilutes minority votes, splits communities and diminishes voters voices on issues they care most about.
When the redistricting process split Dunbar in half and paired it with part of North Fort Myers across the Caloosahatchee, clearly that was a manipulation of boundaries that did not comply with the principle of common values, like-minded and common interests that comprise community.
Another common gerrymandering tactic is “packing”. Packing takes just enough votes away from one voting district and moves them to a contiguous voting district resulting in both districts casting a majority vote for the same party.
What can we as concerned citizens do about political cheating known as gerrymandering?
First, we must be vigilant and let our public officials know that we are watching. We should form groups to attend redistricting hearings and be prepared to provide public comment. And finally, the Florida League of Women Voters (LWVFL), along with other statewide partners, successfully sponsored two Fair District Constitutional amendments in 2010 that created a set of fair, clear criteria redistricting officials are required to follow. To learn more about redistricting and how we can keep eyes on those in power during this process, go to the LWVFL.org. Sign up for announcements on virtual training sessions.
Stay woke! And stay tuned.