By Melisa Valenzuela
Opening schools in the United States during this global COVID-19 pandemic is stupid.
School districts in some of the most highly infected areas have made the decision to let parents choose between online, traditional schooling or a hybrid of both.
The government has not issued any national ordinances or guidelines regarding the reopening of schools, leaving the decisions to be made by each school district itself.
An article from the New York Times said, districts have been split into three groups: those that will offer instruction 100% online, those that allow families to choose, and those that will try the hybrid approach. Or in person classes.
Based on data compiled by Education Week, midwestern and southern states like Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Florida have mandatory in-person instruction. Texas, for example, announced it will begin fall semester online but will start returning to the classroom five days a week starting this month, unless parents opt for online school only.
In California, larger counties such as Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego have decided to keep their schools online for the rest of the fall semester, while schools in smaller counties where the virus positivity rates are low, have been allowed to reopen.
Most states are following the same protocol as California, except for Vermont, Rhode Island, West Virginia, New Mexico, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
They either have state-ordered closures in effect or have delayed openings until after Sept. 8.
The latest Covid-19 research by John Hopkins University shows that the southern states are experiencing higher rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases. More schools in those states are reopening and the consequences are starting to show.
After just one week, Southeast Elementary in Lauderdale County, Mississippi was forced to close after a Covid-19 outbreak occurred.
In a letter to parents and guardians, the superintendent wrote, “School will move to a virtual setting immediately,” according to an article by Mississippi Today.
Another more famous incident occurred at a high school in Georgia where a student posted a picture that showed a crowded school hallway in which few students were wearing masks.
The photo has since gone viral and, although the school had no outbreaks, the image shows how seriously schools in the U.S. are taking the threat of the coronavirus and the health of their students.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released guidelines and suggestions to supplement the new rules and regulations of the reopened schools.
Positivity and transmission rates, number of students allowed in a classroom and strategies that prevent and stop the spread of the virus successfully are some of the things that should be considered when deciding whether or not to open schools.
Strategies that prevent further spreading include wearing face masks, social distancing and constant cleaning and disinfecting.
Other countries around the world such as Germany, Denmark and Norway have been able to keep schools open and people healthy through a combination of low community transmission, expedited free testing and rigorous contact tracing.
The difference between those countries and the United States is that the U.S. likes to play by its own rules.
We have failed to contain the spread of Covid-19, which should indicate that we are simply not ready to go back to normal life.
Forcing schools to reopen is stupid, it’s irresponsible and could result in an even longer quarantine.