Schools -Teachers & MOST Importantly Kids Need To Stay Protected
There are no easy answers to the questions about bringing kids back into classrooms this fall. Parents, school administrators, and educators must instead weigh two bad options: isolate children at home or risk them getting and spreading COVID-19 through in-person contact. That decision is daunting even for infectious disease experts and epidemiologists. Over the last few months, they have been forced to think about the pandemic not only as scientists and scholars, but as parents, and despite their wealth of knowledge, like any parents, these experts are grappling with uncertainty. There are ways to limit the spread of the COVID-19, including masks and ventilation, but there is no way to guarantee zero risks of disease transmission in schools. At the same time, remote learning can exact its own toll, setting back children’s mental health, academic achievement, and social development, and leaving their parents exhausted and demoralized. Schools-Teachers & Kids need to stay protected from this pandemic and beyond. Adjustments that are happening now will continue for the rest of our lives. Life as we know it has changed.
Two Sides From Experts in Epidemiology draw different conclusions. One side explained by Tara Smith—professor of epidemiology at Kent State University College of Public Health
While her local school district was offering a hybrid option, Smith decided that her 6-year-old son, a first-grader in Kent, Ohio’s school district, will attend all-remote classes. Meanwhile, her 18-year-old son was slated to attend Kent State this fall, which is offering mainly remote courses but has decided to delay starting college because he found it difficult to learn remotely. “I feel that transmission is too high here. We don’t have it under control. We still don’t have enough testing, and I just did not feel comfortable sending [my younger son] back to school in person … I thought since we had the ability to school him [at home], that for other parents that don’t have that option, this would be one less child that was in the classroom, and give them a little bit more space.”
Conversely, another expert has another thought on the topic. Kimberly Powers—associate professor of epidemiology at University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health
Powers’ three children ages 11, 9, and 5, will be remotely attending sixth grade, fourth grade, and kindergarten, respectively, at a charter school in Hillsborough, N.C., which has gone all remote at least through mid-October. She had been involved with the school’s planning for the fall, and had initially advocated for the school to have in-person classes for students in kindergarten through fourth grade, but ended up agreeing with the school’s decision due to the increased level of community spread in North Carolina in recent months. “I do think ultimately the decision to hold off on reopening was a prudent one, at least from a transmission-prevention standpoint. But obviously, there are so many negative repercussions outside of just the coronavirus to consider when choosing what to do. It’s hard to feel great about any option they could have selected.”
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