Abrome is an education option for young people and a liberation project. We believe in youth liberation and in the liberation of all peoples, and that our liberation is bound up together. In order to help co-create a better world, we must actively work against the many forms of injustice that exist within our society, to include the oppression of young people. Abrome is a safe space for young people to practice freedom in a community that values consent, practices consensus, and centers the needs of those most impacted by our decisions and actions. 

The wellbeing of the young people at Abrome is a precondition—we will not come together in-person if it puts Abrome Learners needlessly at risk. While we recognize that social interaction, particularly in Self-Directed Education settings, is greatly preferred over remote ones, we reject the privileged narrative that “school closures harm children.” That narrative ignores the many ways in which schooling causes harm to so many children. And so-called learning loss or lack of socialization does not hurt a young person nearly as much as losing someone in their family, household, or community to Covid-19, much less knowing that they were the source of infection. As of July 2021, the children who were hurt the most during the pandemic were the 119,000 who lost a primary caregiver to Covid-19, or the more than 140,000 who experienced the death of a primary or secondary caregiver, defined as co-residing grandparents or kin. Though children remain largely “unlikely to die from Covid-19,” death is not the only bad outcome. Infected adolescents and children continue to be hospitalized, admitted to the ICU, and intubated. They may also develop multi-system inflammatory syndrome or myocarditis. And many will suffer from Long Covid symptoms that can last for months, maybe even years, after they recover from Covid-19. Further, while many vaccinated adults have chosen to “return to normal” because they are largely immune to the worst outcomes of the disease, none of the young people under age 12 are eligible for vaccination, and some age 12 and up are unable to get vaccinated for various reasons. Ignoring the welfare of children should not be normal.

What we choose to do at Abrome does not stay within our immediate community. We are all interconnected. Even if we could ensure that none of the members of the Abrome community would be seriously affected by Covid-19, we would still view it as our responsibility to not carelessly risk spreading the disease to others. The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are at the greatest risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19, and they have borne the brunt of the pandemic. Other groups that have been disproportionately affected include Hispanic, Black, and Indigenous people; low income people; and people in congregate settings (e.g., long-term care facilities, prisons, shelters, meat processing facilities). Those who fall into more than one of the aforementioned groups are particularly vulnerable. These groups, and other under-resourced, marginalized, and oppressed groups have also disproportionately suffered in terms of financial security and mental health during the pandemic. We cannot in good conscience enter into this new academic year without continuing to make the welfare of the most impacted central to our pandemic response.

At Abrome we often say that we are concerned about two worlds. There is the world that we live in, that we need to learn how to navigate. And there is the world that we want to live in, and we choose to live prefiguratively in order to help bring that world into being. The world we live in is eager to “return to normal,” letting those most at risk suffer the consequences. The world we want to live in is not risk free, but it rejects the notion of transferring risk from those with resources and power to those without. We acknowledge that each additional Covid-19 infection can lead to more infections, and each new infection has the potential to seed a superspreader event or a new variant of the virus. By greatly reducing the likelihood of infection or spread of the disease at Abrome, we will help minimize the harm to those in our communities and outside of them, and we will provide an example to others of what community care can look like.