Reopening Schools: Bad Idea.
As everyone is likely aware, COVID-19 case numbers are still on the rise with well-over 35 million worldwide cases and over a million deaths globally. One thing that this has not stopped, however, is the reopening of American schools. Reopening American schools to their full capacity is a major mistake due to the inability to properly manage students, the inability to work collaboratively, and the dangers posed by young people being exposed.
First of all, almost no school of even a couple hundred kids can properly manage students and prevent exposure. According to the CDC, all schools that chose to fully or partially re-open have to adhere to the following guidelines (as well as many others): reinforce handwashing, require students and teachers to cover coughs/sneezes with a tissue, all students over the age of 2 without a disability or other exemption must wear a mask, prevent children from sharing objects, improve central air filtration, and maintain a socially distanced environment throughout the day. These requirements are not only costly in many scenarios, but they are nearly impossible to enforce with current teacher to student ratios. Students could not be monitored at all times, meaning that these guidelines could be broken without administration being able to do anything about it. And according to the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, they are being broken and areas that have chosen to completely re-open schools are facing a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Secondly, under current COVID-19 protocol students simply are not able to work collaboratively. Due to the mandatory social distancing in school, almost every project or piece of work must be done individually. This obviously leads to an increased workload which, according to Employee Benefits, can lead to increased stress levels and even burnout. These are clearly not desired traits in young people, especially since the CDC claims that COVID-19 has already led to increased stress levels amongst the youth.
Finally, although young people without pre-existing conditions are not super high risk for dying of COVID, there are still risks associated with them contracting it. According to Axios, despite being unlikely to die from it, high school and college-aged kids are some of the most likely people to act as COVID-19 carriers. This happens because many young people who are not immunocompromised do not often display symptoms directly after being exposed. This means that they are also unlikely to end socialization with friends and family unless they know that they have had said exposure. Not social distancing while carrying COVID-19 can potentially lead to spreading the virus to older relatives, immunocompromised friends, and other high risk people. Beyond that, healthy young people can still face serious health issues related to the virus. This often includes problems such as blood clots and inflammation of the heart, lungs, and brain which can all cause more serious health concerns both now and later in life.
Despite this, however, many still support the reopening of schools. Why? Because they do not see a better option. Online school does not work for everyone, can be excessively stressful, and does not promote an environment in which students can ask questions or engage in meaningful conversation. If schools can’t go back totally in person and online does not work, what can be done? The answer to that is simple: a hybrid model.
For those unfamiliar, the hybrid model entails students having both online and in-school days. This model often includes the students being on/offline on alternating days allowing for more control within the school, the ability for students to collaborate more when online, and the ability for students of all grade levels to receive in person instruction and ask questions/converse about what they are learning. Besides being practical, this model is being implemented nationwide and is fairly easy for families to adapt to. According to the Indy Star, the model has allowed Indiana families the ability to receive the quality of an in-person education while still maintaining the safety of an online education. This has worked, save for the slight post-Columbus day spike, as Indiana’s daily case numbers have been relatively low since mid-August and students are still able to attend school in a model designed to work best for their education.