Just the other day, I saw a group of special needs students with their teachers out in the park on a field trip. They were feeding the geese, and enjoying the sunshine and each other. In these COVID times, it could be argued that the students, many with underlying health conditions, are at higher risk of contracting Coronavirus. Yet, that risk is outweighed by the need for care, structure, and normalcy in their lives. Most would agree with that.
So, why does that same risk analysis not apply to all students? The risk of serious illness, death, or spreading COVID-19 has been shown to be extremely low in school-age children; while the benefits of being in school are shown to be many. The routine and normalcy of school provides not only academics, but socialization; and in many cases meals, as well as both physical and mental health screenings. Kids forced to remain home for yet another quarter, semester, or year – often without proper supervision – are subject to depression, anxiety, lowered academic achievement, social isolation, hunger, and abuse.
There may be some families where sending their student back amongst the masses would not be best for them. This has been the case even before COVID. There have always been special circumstances that require differentiated learning pathways; and those necessary adjustments can and should continue to be made.
Enough data has been gathered both in America and abroad to back a responsible decision to safely return students to the classroom. So, why are bureaucrats still insisting it cannot be done? Something is simply not right here. Either follow the data or don’t; but you can’t do both. When schools were initially closed – an extreme and historic response – it was because the data (or more accurately, the lack of data) showed the potential for a cataclysmic overwhelming of our health systems and catastrophic loss of life if such drastic action were not taken.
In the last four months, those speculative projections have been replaced with more accurate data based on the reality of the virus all over the world. And here in the United States – including COVID hotspots that resulted in tens of thousands of adult and elderly deaths – all the daycare centers, day camps, and summer school programs that remained open throughout the entire Coronavirus pandemic show us how little the virus affected those institutions.
We must now rely on this data to weigh the risks against the benefits. Following scientific analysis – devoid of political innuendo – would result in our responsible reopening of our schools.
Yet, here we are entering the fall semester with school systems across the country behaving as though their own scientific prowess supersedes that of worldwide experts and data. Quit politicizing and send the kids back to school!
#NotAfraidToThink #BackToSchool #CovidDoesn’tWin