Opinion: It`s time to take care of our kids, kept in turmoil during pandemic, with eviction threat just the latest problem
Iowa children and their families need a plan for the upcoming school year that is just days away. They need leaders who will fight for and protect them.
Glenn Hurst – Guest columnist Des Moines Register
We can all agree this pandemic has been a mess. Mismanaged from the outset, American’s have been given a particularly steep hill to climb.
It didn’t have to be this way. We could have prevented so much pain and suffering from the outset if we’d followed the playbook for this exact sort of crisis, put together by the National Security Council after the terrifying outbreaks of Ebola and Zika.
Unfortunately, President Donald Trump threw this guidance out the window and mocked the doctors and essential workers attempting to protect us. Similarly, scientists and doctors have been clamoring for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and our state and federal legislators to follow the science, but time after time we’re ignored.
After more than a year of this pandemic, we know that masks work and that social distancing works. We know that the eviction moratorium ensured families had a place to safely socially distance during this pandemic that, sadly, is far from over. The unvaccinated were empowered to be so, and now they are dangerously vulnerable to the delta variant taking lives as cases increase.
Yet, our leaders still continue to neglect their responsibility. Too often we hear “Iowans will make the right decision” followed by their representatives modeling the wrong decision. It is time for our leaders to do what they’re paid and elected to do: lead.
Like the safety of masks, we know what instability does to our children. We know that kids do their best in school when they have a roof over their heads, reliable adults, access to fruits and vegetables and fresh air. Yet Iowa’s laws and the latest federal moratorium efforts fail to protect them for the long haul, threatening the stability they need for the next school year.
The risks our kids face only increases as Reynolds refuses to allocate hundreds of millions of federal dollars to assist Iowans facing housing challenges during the pandemic. Only 4% of this relief aid has been used to help struggling Iowans. What happens if this pot of money goes unused? It will likely be clawed back by the U.S. Treasury to pay for the next relief package.
Free lunch and breakfast, SNAP, Medicaid, in-school mask mandates, remote learning options, and afterschool programs are all part of the effort to provide more stability for our children. To help them perform better in school, improve their health and safety, and their opportunities later in life.
The latest effort to briefly extend the eviction moratorium is a good next step, but it is just a step. As the pandemic rages forward, some of our most vulnerable Iowa children are heading to school not knowing if they’ll have a roof over their heads when they get home.
Thanks to President Joe Biden, portions of the eviction moratorium have been extended for 60 days, but that’s not enough. Iowa children and their families need a plan for the upcoming school year that is just days away. They need leaders who will fight for and protect them.
Dr. Glenn Hurst is a physician, advocate, founding member of the Indivisible movement of Iowa and Nebraska and is currently running for U.S. Senate in Iowa as a Democrat. He has been featured internationally on programs such as NPR, CNN, Yahoo Finance as a frontline practitioner in rural Iowa and is a leader in the Iowa Democratic Party as chair of the party’s Rural Caucus.