Dear Fellow Medical Educators – Members of KCRSA,
What times these are! These last few months it seems all education has been put on pause – or at least recast in very different ways. It is inspirational to see how many of you have risen to the challenge and redesigned your spring courses to comply with safety requirements and how you have completed the school year virtually and/or with social distancing. However, I am saddened, in fact sickened, by the actual physical threats to safety made against our local public health authorities. I am disappointed at seeing basic preventive measures like wearing a mask, politicized. I am personally reflective, ashamed and resolved as I have been forced to face my own deeply buried systemic racism.
Last week, several of us sat in on the Zoom Town Hall on education held by Children’s Mercy. This week, Children’s has come out publicly on the side of recommending that all children return to school this fall. This week the American Academy of Pediatrics has also taken that position. I hope it is clear to all who look at this issue, that for K-12 the damage from not having our children be physically in school is worse than the risks from Covid-19. These decisions directly impact the plans for community outreach that your KCRSA has been forming the last few years. This spring, your Steering Committee completed the work of forming your KCRSA into a not for profit corporation and started looking at ways we could teach critical health issues in K-12 and introduce (and recruit) students to healthcare careers of all types. One small example is including EMS on the committee and into our healthcare education plans. Welcome Jon Batenhorst from Johnson County MED-ACT – Emergency Medical Services to the Steering Committee. One large example is the decision to hire a part time administrative assistant to help make these plans a reality and to submit grant proposals to funding entities. A few weeks ago, we signed on Lauren Kopfer in that position. She previously worked in Development and Philanthropy at Children’s.
Then Covid-19 reality hit!
As we look at what that will mean this fall, it is clear that school districts no longer want any outsiders coming in to present. So, our original plans of presentations in school and field trips to our sim centers had to be scrapped for now. The fewer personnel contacting and interacting with the students the better is the policy. The Steering Committee and our executive committee looked at what our educational outreach now means for our committee and we propose for all our member institutions to stand by and help their local school districts in whatever way is meaningful. But for KCRSA as a whole, what we would like to propose to you, our membership, is that we primarily adopt the School District of KCMO as our primary region-wide project we will seek funding support on. We will work with superintendent Bedell and the School Nurses of KCMO in whatever needs they express as they develop their plans to return students to school. For example, are we ready for our Alliance to do the individual, voluntary fund raising that it would take to provide every student, every day as they get on that bus, with a new mask that they can use all day and then take home with them each day? Would we be ready to help provide educational material and posters and cards and notes for students on viruses, protective measures and vaccinations to assist their teachers and administrators in the enormous educational task they face?
Your thoughts (and prayers) and ideas are needed. Please respond and let us know what you think of this project proposal for KCRSA for 2020-2021 School Year (and beyond?). What would you like to see us do?