They say patience is a virtue and it could also be a life-saver when it comes to bringing kids back to the classroom. As fall turns to winter with no COVID-19 vaccine available, many local K-12 schools move closer to reopening in-person classes. School officials and teachers are working on plans to do it safely, but the safest and smartest thing to do would be to wait.
We can all agree that kids need to be together so they can socialize and be around other kids. It is also common knowledge that most kids do better with in-person learning rather than online classes. The two major problems right now are that we are currently in a COVID-19 surge and we cannot yet guarantee the safety of kids being at school during this pandemic.
In the past few weeks, I have spoken with several area teachers and school administrators regarding the return of students to the classroom. They agree that the best place for students to learn is in the classroom, but they all also agreed that it should only happen when it is safe to do so. Schools are planning to ensure the safety of students once they are back on campus, including how to handle any positive cases of COVID-19 infections if they occur. But it is a work in progress.
Having kids back on campus presents many challenges for schools, such as mask use, distancing, hand washing, and the presence of older age teachers and administrators who are more susceptible to the disease. With the idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, we should keep our kids at home and learning remotely for now so that schools can take their time and plan for everyone’s safe return.
Besides the fact that schools are not yet fully prepared for students to return, our country is now facing a huge surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths. Data from the CDC shows COVID-19 infections rose in school-age children this year from March to mid-July, then had a downward trend from late July through August. In September, however, when some schools around the country reopened, an upswing in cases reappeared.
COVID-19 incidence* among school-aged children aged 5–11 years (N = 101,503) and 12–17 years (N = 175,782), by week — United States, March 1–September 19, 2020. Sources: CDC COVID-19 case report form. https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nndss/covid-19-response.html.
In addition, it is being widely reported that there is currently another COVID-19 surge happening in the United States and around the world as we shift from fall to winter. Nearly 1,000 people a day are dying from coronavirus-related causes in the nation. Medical experts suggest that the situation could grow even worse during the next few months.
The medical community is still learning about COVID-19. There is no vaccine available yet, and schools are still at work trying to figure out if, and when, kids can safely return to the classroom. At the same time, we are experiencing some of the highest COVID-19 infection and death rates so far during this pandemic.
There will hopefully be a time soon where kids can safely return to school, get their education, and socialize with other kids, but now is not the time to do so.