Ideally, politics, and/ or, any specific, political/ personal agenda, and/ or, perceived, self – interest, and quality, safely – delivered, education, should never be mixed! Unfortunately, in an era, when we often, witness, many things, occurring, in a way, never seen, before, this has become another victim, of achieving the smartest, safest, best – considered, policy and approach! Politicians, often, prefer articulating, simplistic, rhetoric and promises, often, either refusing to, or not having the ability, to fully understand, the bigger – picture. For example, while, nearly everyone, ideally, would prefer, seeing schools reopen, this Fall, in a somewhat, normal way, the reality is, as long as so many are infected, with this current virus, it’s far more complicated, and the potential ramifications, of doing this wrong, are extreme! There are complications, whether schools, reopen, as they usually have, using remote learning, or some, hybrid combination of these two. With that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, 6 key considerations.
1. Local infection rate: While, some, who appear to prioritize, appearances, in advance of an election year, and, thus, seem to be pushing – for, in – person reopenings, often, point to certain nations, who have done so, in some manner, and been successful. However, they often leave out a key detail, which is, as nearly every public health expert admits, risky, to do so, unless the infection rate, is under – control. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, states, he is following the guidelines of the World Health Organization, and the suggestions of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which says, this reopening, should only be done, if/ when the local infection rate, is 5% or lower, but, at present, approximately 75% of this nation, is currently suffering a far higher rate. Cuomo, also says, New York’s schools, will automatically close, to in – person schooling, if rates hit 9%. On the other hand, President Trump has demanded reopenings, this semester. In addition, if/ when, these buildings are deemed, safe – to – open, another consideration is how to do so, safely, in terms of face coverings, social distancing, quality barriers, and healthy air circulation.
2. Economic need/ back to work: The American economy (as well as the global/ international one), is hurting, from the closings, unemployment rates, business owners financial challenges, government bureaucracy/ inefficiency, a somewhat – dysfunctional political system, etc! The overall economy, and the financial well – being of our citizens, requires, having them, go, back to work, but, public health considerations, indicates, the necessity to proceed, carefully. Further complicating, business reopenings, is the current challenges, to safe, secure, child – care, etc.
3. Children’s emotional health: We should be concerned, the Center for Disease Control, an historically, independent agency/ body, agreed to modify, its original suggestions, for school reopening, apparently, at the strong urgings, of President Trump! While, most medical experts, would agree, many children, might suffer, from an emotional health, perspective, how can we proceed, forward, unless, everything, possible, is done, to minimize health risks, to the students, teachers, aides, administrators, staff, etc?
4. Potential for community infestation: Some, proclaim, children are unlikely, to get the virus, and so, it’s safe, to reopen. However, in reality, we have seen, deaths and severe infections, on several occasions, already! In addition, even if many children, are asymptomatic, doesn’t that put, many adults, and other community members, at risk? That is why, any reopening, should be based, on a low, current, community – infection rate, maintenance/ adherence to face coverings (wearing a mask), social distancing, hands cleansing/ sanitation, enhanced cleaning and sanitation of school areas, and an in – depth, plan!
5. Infrastructure/ ability to adapt: Any reopening plan, must be more flexible, than rigid, because, the old – normal, may not, remain applicable, for the near – term! In some instances, where classrooms are larger (permitting spacing), and/ or, some larger spaces (such as cafeterias, gyms, etc, might be transformed, into necessary additional classrooms), the possibilities, are better, than for some, older, poorer schools, and school districts! In any case, planning must prepare, for in – person, remote, and hybrid learning, if/ when, conditions dictate!
6. Necessities/ enforcement of social spacing, and face masks: Unless/ until, schools, not only have the needed rules, but a method, to consistently, enforce, wearing a mask, properly, and social spacing, reopening, will probably, be doomed, for failure!
Governor Cuomo put it, this way, Our kids aren’t guinea – pigs! We all understand, we need to reopen schools, but unless, most do so, more wisely, than far too many states, have attempted to reopen – their – economies, the public health, and well – being, is, at – risk!