Should Schools Reopen or Should Children Remain at Home?

“Unusual” does not begin to describe this past Spring and Summer, as COVID-19 has swept the globe, impacting every aspect of life. But now Summer is almost over and Fall is quickly approaching, meaning school will soon be back in session. But what does this mean for our kids and the start of a new school year? Should schools reopen or should they remain closed? There are two sides to this story, and we will explore both.

According to Education Week, a survey was recently conducted with teachers, principals and district leaders. The survey found that 65 percent of participants believe schools should remain closed in order to help slow the spread of the virus. One of the main reasons listed was health concerns for the teachers and the students.  

Others are concerned that it will be virtually impossible to enforce social distancing and wearing masks, especially with younger students and students with disabilities. An opinion piece from a third-grade teacher published in Bethesda Magazine says that younger students to not have the necessary self-control and forcing these behaviors can lead to unhappy and frightened children.

Another concern is that if schools reopen, the virus will rapidly infect large numbers of students and teachers, spreading invisibly throughout the entire community undetected until it is way too late.  Nobody wants the death rate to climb, especially not among children.

There are also valid reasons for reopening schools this Fall. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) children have a lower risk than adults. The CDC also reports that in the United States, children under 18 years of age account for less than “7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths.” This is statistically significant, especially when compared to the last five flu seasons, where more children died in each season than they have from COVID-19.

Scientific studies have been conducted around the world. These studies show that transmission rates, especially in younger children, are low. The CDC admits that no study is conclusive, but there is strong evidence to support that it is in the best interest of the children to return to in-person schooling. It is a documented fact that over the course of a summer break students lose up to 20 percent of the gains they made during the school year in math and reading. A recent study conducted by Brown and Harvard universities compared the results of an online math program, before and after schools closed, and discovered that students’ math skills decreased by nearly half with only an online learning environment.

Other arguments for reopening schools include nutrition and safety. The CDC reports that more than 30 million students participate in the National School Lunch Program, while another 15 million receive breakfast. For some students this is half of the caloric intake for the entire day.

And as far as safety is concerned, the reports of child abuse have dropped. You may think this is a good thing, but it is not. The Washington Post reports that more severely injured children are showing up in emergency rooms with broken bones and severe head injuries. And in some hospitals, the death rate is unusually high. The Washington Post says “the stress of unemployment and financial insecurity has strained relationships between children and those who care for them. The closure of schools and day cares have forced children closer to adults who may not be safe.”

Now that you are armed with both sides of the story, tell us what you think and for more information, check out the links below.

 

Bethesda Magazine: https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-beat/opinion/opinion-a-teachers-10-reasons-not-to-reopen-schools/

           

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools.html

 

The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/04/30/child-abuse-reports-coronavirus/

Charles V. Hardenbergh
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