Do the Orange County Supervisors have any idea what drives the economy? It is not just a matter of opening up the doors of our local businesses, and hoping customers will come.

While Supervisors Wagner and Steel advocate for lawlessness with little to no enforcement of phase protocols for safety, the rest of us are wondering, will OC residents actually be safe once we re-open? If we see a spike in cases post re-opening OC, who will take responsibility, the two reckless supervisors?

Residents and workers alike must feel safe, and know that their children are being taken care of. Schools and childcare are essential to our financial recovery. School Districts are childcare providers, and you would think that they would have been included in development of the County’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Many business sectors in our county are female dominated. What about our children? How many women contributed to your plan? The cure to the California economy depends on getting our children back where they belong – learning. It is unmistakable that when our children are underfoot, and we are trying to Zoom we cannot fully participate in our county’s commerce. As parent-teachers, we are well-wishing imposters while real childcare educators are clearly more magical than ever imagined.

The County’s phase 2 for reopening highlights small businesses such as sporting goods stores and the local cupcakery but remains one swing short of the hammer that our economy needs. And while small businesses are preeminent to our economic recovery, we can also argue that our children’s well being will also drive the future and is vital to phase 2 and thereafter. Have the OC supervisors contacted school officials?

Many children will have to return to daycare requiring bold initiatives. There is likely no vaccine for COVID and herd immunity is years away. There is no relief for this pandemic on the immediate horizon and waiting for a cure is unattainable because science takes time. Our child care programs will have to be reimagined with flexible thinkers leading the charge. Yet the OC Supervisors have yet to contact anyone in the educational community for assistance. The new normal should be led by campus sanitation specialists who rank in respect to principals and paid commensurate to professionals. Our daily structure needs to be rethought and turned on its head altogether. It’s time.

COVID 19 seems all encompassing because we have lacked the imagination for a reasonable federal response.  And it is not coming any time soon. Just like Trump’s COVID task force, the OC Supervisors have opted to be  “back up dancers” in our County’s Coronavirus performance. We public school officials should answer the call to participate in the reimagination of public child care services. We must create child care schedules and structures that limit contagion, but most importantly, provide a safe environment for children to thrive while their parents are at work rebuilding the local economy.

Finally, it is unlikely that people will participate in their local school decision making when they are on the verge of bankruptcy or eviction.  We must acknowledge that we are entering an unprecedented, cataclysmic time of economic hardship. The Orange County Board of Supervisors must distribute the 554 million dollars provided by the CARES Act to cover budgetary shortfalls for local cities. These funds will help COVID-related expenses such as support to small businesses, personal protective equipment, food delivery and rental assistance for some tenants. It is confounding that the OC Supervisors have not released them, despite the requests of 31 out of 34 OC mayors to expedite reimbursements for COVID-related expenses. Any economic reopening plan, in any phase, that ignores the economic plight of our communities or excludes our public schools will fail. It is time for the Orange County Supervisors to open their eyes and see that rushing to re-open our economy without a well thought plan of action including input from the child care community is one which can never even get off the ground. Let’s not allow Wagner and Steel to turn Orange County into the COVID Wild West where clearly there is no Sheriff in town.

Patricia Singer serves as the Vice President of the OVSD Board of Trustees. A lifetime Republican, a Mexican-American who immigrated to the United States at the age of 8, she is proud to serve the people of OC. Patricia has been a licensed Realtor for the last 19 years. She is married to her husband of 16 years and she has two school aged children.

Keri Kropke is a trustee on the Brea Olinda Unified School District Board and a member of the California Health Facilities Financing Authority. She was also a member of the Colorado Silver Bullets, the first women’s baseball team to compete against men’s teams and was inducted into the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. Keri is an active member of the Democratic Party of Orange County.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin is the president of the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees. She is a 24-year classroom teacher and labor union leader in the ABC Unified School District. She is currently a California Democratic Party State Central Committee Member, appointed by CA48 Congressman Harley Rouda, and has recently served as the Orange County Campaign Ambassador to Gavin Newsom. She speaks four languages and is a dual citizen of Italy and the United States of America. She is a resident of Huntington Beach, and has two school-aged sons.

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