When a recent school reopened in Georgia it led to six students and three staff members testing positive for the coronavirus.
Now, people were wondering if it is a good idea to reopen schools.
Proponents for In-Person Learning
Proponents for in-person learning believe that schools should reopen and may state that the school in Georgia was unable to provide appropriate social distancing in classrooms.
This may be evidenced by a recent viral photo revealing a packed hallway with only half of the students wearing masks.
Keeping the Rate of Positive Coronavirus Cases Down
Schools in New York are preparing to reopen their doors by September 10th. Governor Cuomo has deemed the state safe enough to reopen as long as their region has an average rate of positive coronavirus cases below 5%.
It has been reported that amongst the 10 largest school districts, only New York City and Chicago have met the percentage rate that is deemed healthy for reopening.
Other districts such as counties in Florida and Las Vegas have positive test rates that are four times greater than the national 5%.
As a result, Los Angeles and San Diego, districts in California, have decided to teach students fully online with no hybrid option.
Due to the varying decisions being made throughout states and their school districts, it is uncertain whether or not some schools will reopen in the upcoming weeks.
Schools and city councils can decide whether or not they are ready to reopen. Schools can choose to provide students with fully remote classes or opt for a hybrid system.
Some students may choose to attend school on days designated to them by their school schedule. Other students may choose a remote learning program and remain in their homes for the fall.
While some evidence provides that school-aged children are less likely to suffer severe symptoms from coronavirus, parents are still being very cautious.
What Do Teachers Think about In-Person or Hybrid Learning?
There are varying degrees of opinions among teachers regarding remote and hybrid learning.
Recently, teachers have taken to the streets to protest the reopening of schools – and their calls for safety were heard.
Protestors in lower Manhattan demanded that schools should not reopen.
“Children cannot learn if they’re dead,” said Frankie Cook, a kindergarten teacher at PS 261 in Brooklyn.
Others claimed that schools would be like prisons for teachers who need to ensure proper safety for all students or lives could be at risk.
On the other hand, other teachers believe that safety is not the only issue to consider when choosing whether or not to reopen schools.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Michael Bannon, a teacher from Toronto, writes that “this is an equity issue.”
She goes on to say that while the middle-class and upper-level students can afford to hire private tutors or resources, students from lower-income families do not have the money to do the same.
“Teachers have a duty to serve their communities,” concludes Bannon.
In response to Bannon’s claims, another teacher from Hyattsville argues that it is not wrong for educators to protect themselves and their students.
Whether or not some schools do decide to open in-person, it is clear that there will be mixed reactions among teachers and educators.
How To Ensure Safety In Schools?
While some schools may conduct remote learning for the fall, there are some suggested guidelines for both schools and individuals to ensure safety.
Upgrade on H-VAC systems
As for schools, money must be allocated to upgrading heating and ventilation systems. Unfortunately, the reality is that many schools lack the funding to provide air conditioning or heating systems in all classrooms.
Daily Testing For The Virus
Schools need to ensure that before entering the building, students have their temperatures checked to ensure they do not have a fever. Any student that has a high temperature should be isolated, have their parents called in, and then sent back home.
Standard Use of PPE
Teachers and staff need quick and reliable access to masks. If a student forgets to wear a mask, the teachers should be able to provide them with one. In an ideal situation, there would be an endless supply of hand sanitizer and wipes in order to sanitize the classroom for students.
Sufficient Staff On-Duty
There needs to be enough teachers in the building or substitute teachers so that there is no shortage. Teachers and students will most likely not be able to roam the building for activities like gym class. Therefore, teachers will need to have a substitute on stand by to step in for them so that they may take a break throughout the day.
Shutting Down in the Event of an Outbreak
If there is a case found in the classroom, some suggest that the classroom should be shut down for 14-days and sterilized. If that were to happen, students would be transitioned to a remote learning program.
However your school district decides to carry out its programs this Fall, it is important to stay informed as to how you can keep your family safe.
This article was written by Bibi Samia of New York, NY.