OPINION: Returning To School Is A Terrible Idea
For the last few weeks, we have watched COVID-19 cases rise in an apparent second wave of the novel coronavirus (also known as SARS-CoV-2) in the United States. In June, many states had begun to take action in order to reopen their states, however, many now have no other choice but to close once again. Even with this, many state governments, even our federal government, want to open schools normally in August.
In March of 2020, thousands of school districts had made decisions to temporarily close schools to curb the spread of COVID-19. This decision was then expanded by state Governors when many of them started to order the closing of schools for the remainder of the school year. After this decision, cases began to fall in late April through the end of May. This was clearly effective in slowing the spread of this virus.
In an effort to reopen schools, many agencies and independent school districts have offered their insight and even issued guidelines for students, staff and other employees to follow for the fall semester of the 2020-2021 school year. The guidelines include but are not limited to wearing a face mask, six feet distancing, staggered release schedules, some districts even going as far as structured hand-washing schedules.
While these are effective measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, this is only the case under the assumption that everyone who attends school will take these guidelines seriously and will practice them properly. With teenagers and younger children, many are stubborn and will eventually get sloppy with the guidelines and this will lead to a rise in cases. Not to mention at lunchtime, students will want to eat with their friends. Masks will be off and they will be talking, laughing, possibly spreading the virus among them. To sum it up, these guidelines will only prove ineffective in combating COVID-19.
An opposing argument can be made that education is aboslutely essential to students' mental health, among other things. Students going to school helps parents get some rest and have some time to themselves.
My counterargument would be that, yes, education is very essential and should be treated as such. However, it appears that we may be too focused on handwashing, wearing a mask, staggered dismissal times, et cetera and that all of this will only waste our time — there will only be limited time for actual learning to take place. A solution to this would be for students to go to school for a few days to learn the basics of remote learning and then switch over to that. This would allow students more time to actually learn and would allow for social distancing, thus slowing the spread of the virus.
If this perspective is not enough to persuade you, allow me to offer a further personal view. I am a 16 year old high school student who has tested positive for COVID-19. For the last two weeks I have been confined to my bedroom. Many of my immediate family members have now tested positive after having contact with me 2 days before I began showing symptoms. I was exposed by somebody who was not showing symptoms either. I was in this person's car for less than 10 minutes. In other words, it was too easy. I am not confident that we can prevent these things from happening in our schools.
Caiden Anderson is an Opinion Contributor for The National Times.