At the end of June, Chris Norwood received an unexpected text.
It was from a longtime family friend, reaching out to ask for prayers. The friend had contracted COVID-19 and was experiencing physical pain.
This hit close to home for Norwood. It was the first person in his immediate circle who had come down with the virus.
He took to Facebook later that day to request prayers from friends:
“You don’t have to post saying that you will pray — JUST PRAY. The initials are TT,” wrote Norwood on Facebook. “COVID-19 is real. And it is as devastating as you’ve heard on the news.”
Soon after that, Norwood, driven to take meaningful action, launched a petition on Change.org. He calls it the @weask2mask Campaign, and is asking people to commit to wearing masks and face coverings to help protect the community and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Norwood, who serves as Vice President on Milpitas Unified School District’s (MUSD) Board of Education, is mindful of what it will take to potentially reopen schools in the Fall. Governor Gavin Newson last week mentioned that a school can only reopen if the County it is in has been off the state’s monitoring list for 14 days. Santa Clara County has been on the list since July 12.
“We’re trying to move in a direction where we can have safe in-person learning. But we can’t consider safe in-person learning until we have 14 days,” said Norwood. “And how are we going to get there? We can’t get here unless everyone masks. For us to get 14 days straight, it’s going to take concentrated effort.”
Norwood’s friend appears to be in better health now, but COVID-19 has permanently weakened the individual’s immune system and lungs.
Norwood is hoping that more people sign the petition and join the movement. He also has plans to launch a social media campaign and encourage people to have mask spirit by engaging in contests and sharing pictures.
Meanwhile, over these next several weeks, the community will be waiting to see what happens with the reopening of schools in the Fall. For the first six weeks, the plan is for all students to engage in distance learning. After that, families have a choice between a hybrid program (where a child attends in-person schooling twice a week and does the other days virtually), or 100% distance learning. However, should Santa Clara County remain on the state’s monitoring list, all students will have to stay home and learn virtually.
“Education is relational. It’s a social construct,” said Norwood. “To take away that social construct in its entirety, that’s devastating. For everybody.”
Here’s that petition again.