‘We Have to Take Care of our Kids.’ Jorge, a Boone Woodworker, on Education During a Pandemic

Medical personnel handle test samples at a community coronavirus testing site operated by Cone Health and the county Health Department in Burlington, N.C. in July. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By Araceli Cruz

September 30, 2020

Jorge has four children in western NC, two in the local community college, two in the local school system. He says families are being asked to put a lot at risk. 

[Jorge is a Boone resident who works at a local woodworking shop. He has four kids, ages 14, 15, 18, 21. The two oldest attend community college. This is his story, as told to Araceli Cruz.]

“Here in the county where I live, the first nine weeks will be remote learning. My daughter, my oldest, who’s in community college, will be taking classes at home. 

My son, who’s also in community college, was indecisive about what to do. He didn’t know if he wanted to go back to school or continue with classes online. He just got back from work, and we’re continuing to have that conversation. He thinks that he’ll take two courses at school and three classes at home. And my youngest girls, well, they’re going to remain at home for these initial nine weeks and then see how things progress from there. 

But the truth is I am a bit worried, mostly about my son who wants to take classes at school. He faces risks by going there, and I know he’ll take precautions because we’re all taking care of ourselves.

But I talked to my daughters because they’re young women, and they understand that we are facing risks wherever we go, and we also know that not everyone will take care of themselves as we do. In fact, when the pandemic first started, my daughters would come home and say, ‘Dad, we’re seeing kids who are sick.’ My wife won’t let these kids out even if they have a runny nose. But I also understand there’s a lot of Latino families that have no other choice but to go to work and what are they going to do with their kids? With this current situation, we have to have options, and we have to take care of our kids and ourselves. 

I’ve told my kids, ‘I don’t want you to get sick, and I don’t want to get sick.’ If I get sick, I miss work. So we’re doing the best we can, but I am worried about my children. This is all new to us. 

The good thing is that my wife and I don’t face a considerable risk of contamination because it’s just us in the shop. The only person we come in contact with is my boss. He gives us the orders, so we, on a rare occasion, deal with other people. 

In my opinion, I think the way our state leaders are handling things is right. I like that they’re waiting a bit. I also understand how people are scared about college kids coming back to the universities here. So if we do have a spike in cases, I think that will be the reason why. 

But the responsibility falls on us. As a father, we can’t put all of the burdens on the state leaders. I have to educate my kids on how to protect themselves. We’re all at risk, but if you take care of yourself, it’s doable. They have to wear their mask. They have to use anti-bacterial gel.” 


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