Returning to School Amidst a Pandemic
The debate rages on. What should happen this Fall when it is time to return to school? On one side of the coin, the argument is that students need to return to prevent them falling behind, because their mental health depends on it and because the Economy needs their parents to return to the workforce. On the flipside, there are those that feel that the health of the students, teachers, staff and all related to those listed could be put in jeopardy by returning to in-person schooling.
No one believes that students shouldn’t restart their education. The problem simply lies in how to best accomplish this goal.
For Returning to In Person Schooling
For those that support the idea of a return to In Person Schooling, the arguments are sound. Scientific Panels have shown that there is a need for younger children to return to school, especially. This is a time period when much of their development is conducted that will shape who they become in the future. Social interaction is critical.
There is also the argument that the economy needs workers that are currently unable to leave their children alone, to return to the workforce. Opponents would argue that a school should not be considered a babysitting service, but the reality remains that for many, that’s exactly what it is. Without schools and after-school programs, many parents would be unable to keep their jobs.
Lastly, the argument that our students simply do not learn as well using Virtual Learning, than they would in a In Person environment. In addition to the limitations that Virtual Learning inherently has, the barriers of access to technology and inadequate Internet speeds can also disproportionately affect lower income families.
And, it’s not as if supporters of In Person Schooling just want to throw children into a petri dish and see what happens. They propose temperature checks, increased sanitizing, air filtration, social distancing, etc.
Against Returning to In Person Schooling
For those who are against the idea of a return to In Person Schooling, the arguments are also sound. Nearly 1 in 4 people involved in the education of children are considered “at-risk.” But, it’s also the potential for infected students to return home from school and pass on the virus to their families.
There is the argument that no matter what precautions you try to take to keep people safe in a school environment, you will not succeed. It would seem that there is no logistical way to educate students en mass without some close interaction and the possibility of a single infected person spreading a virus to potentially hundreds of people.
However, some countries have had success in doing so. Others have not. It really depends on the steps a school is willing to take to successfully prevent the spread of a virus. Unfortunately for the United States, we have no national mandate on how to do this. It will ultimately be left to individual school districts to implement prevention plans. And, that is where the potential for disaster remains. Some districts will have success and will become a model to build upon. Others will not be as successful and the results could prove to be deadly.
So, what’s the answer? Unfortunately, we don’t know. There will continue to be strong opinions on both sides. And with time running out before the beginning of the school year, it won’t be long until we know who will win and who will lose.