Should Schools Reopen for Fall?
The 2020/2021 school year is due to start back in August. By now, many of us have heard that President Trump is threatening to pull funding from any schools that refuse to reopen. That in itself, is crazy! I don’t care where you stand on your politics, threatening to pull funding from schools just seems like an extreme form of bullying to me. Anyway…about the schools reopening…what do you think? Here’s some information I found while doing a quick Google search this morning.
Districts Seem to Be Making Their Decisions Based on Parents’ Opinions
Across the US, school districts are surveying parents to see what they want to do. Is that right? I mean, of course parents should have opinions. I get that. But when so much of the country is divided on everything from whether or not to wear masks, how serious Covid-19 really is (many think the whole thing is a hoax), and whether or not the country should go into another mandatory shutdown, it seems that there may be too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to deciding something this big. Some surveys show that almost 80% of parents want school reopened in August. Others show almost the opposite. Again, no one seems in agreement on the matter, meaning maybe a decision like when and how to reopen America’s schools shouldn’t be such a democratic decision??
What About the Teachers?
Many teachers are highly concerned about getting the virus if schools reopen too soon, especially in hot-spot areas such as parts of California, Texas, and Florida. Some reports are showing that 1 in 5 teachers say they won’t go back to the classroom this fall, regardless of whether their school reopens. A Washington Post article, “’Parents need to go to work’ does not stop covid-19 at the school entrance,’” addresses teachers’ fears about being forced to go back before the virus is under control.
What About the Students?
Regarding young children, there is virtually no way to ensure they not only wear a mask 7+ hours a day, but also socially distance within the classrooms, on the bus, in the cafeteria, and on the playground. It is impossible for elementary teachers to both teach and police the students in such a micromanaged way.
As for older kids, and up through college students, how can they be expected to wear a mask for that many hours at a time? And when they do take the mask off to eat, breathe, or communicate, won’t that open everyone around them up to more risk anyway…thus rendering the masks a vain effort altogether?
And Let’s Not Forget Bus Drivers, Teacher’s Assistants, School Staff, Custodians, Etc.
People need to work. Students need to learn. I doubt you’ll find anyone who disagrees with that. However, the question becomes, “At what cost?” I mean, how many lives is an acceptable number to lose just because we want schools reopened? For that matter, bars, beaches, hair salons, and the list goes on. But for the sake of this blog post, what happens when Covid-19 sweeps through a school cafeteria, for example? Then the whole operation needs shut down. Well, chances are, the school needs shut down at that point, too, leaving us no better off than before they reopened.
Oh, and Anyone Pregnant or With Pre-existing Conditions…
It’s true that current data shows that younger people have more favorable outcomes when it comes to contracting and also surviving Covid. However, what about pregnant teachers and staff, people in the school system who are battling cancer, and anyone (students included) who has severe asthma, autoimmune diseases, or any other pre-existing condition? Are we prepared to put all of their lives on the line?
Well Then, What are Our Option?
Back in February and March, industries across the board were coming up with ways to conduct business via technology. Dance classes went virtual with great success. Yoga and other fitness instructors conducted virtual classes as well. Teachers taught students in the same way, and are still doing so through online and virtual summer courses. So why can’t we continue doing that until a vaccine is created?
Everyone has an opinion, including me obviously. But the truth is, we need order. We need qualified authority figures (virologists, medical experts, informed lawmakers) to stand up and take charge regarding the reopening of schools. Now isn’t the time to make this political, or to worry about offending people. How this country goes about reopening schools will be monumental in this war against the Coronavirus. I don’t have all of the answers, nor should I. I am not an expert. But I do know that it is wholly unfair to put crushing pressure on teachers to “save the economy.” That is such a small-minded way to address a global pandemic, the likes of which the (living) world has never seen. If we force teachers and students back into the classroom, that will not save our economy. America is supposed to be the greatest country in the world.
I don’t have the answer, but we as a country…our students, teachers, and citizens, deserve more than the ridiculous game playing that’s going on in this war on Coronavirus!