As states across the country try to figure out when to reopen for business and how to do so safely in the face of Covid-19, many are also questioning, from elementary schools to universities, when will schools reopen?
Many schools have decided to close for the rest of the academic year while others have moved to digital learning, yet parents, educators, and even some students are wanting to know will they be back in session come fall? The answer, according to experts right now-there are no solid answers, just one best case scenario that many agree upon-come September, it won’t be back-to-normal business as usual.
“Schools may open their doors, but they will promptly have to shut them again if the Coronavirus resurges — if students, staff, or parents start getting sick,” Jose Ferreira, CEO of Bakpax, an app that uses AI to read handwriting and grade assignments told Popsugar. “By many accounts, we’ll be lucky to have a vaccine by summer 2021, and schools are about the most efficient way you can think of to spread disease rapidly within a population. The problem isn’t that they get snot on their hands and then accidentally wipe it on their friends, though, of course, with this population that actually is a problem,” he said. “But the big problem is that these schools are going to be hotboxes of live virus.
Ferreira goes on to say in his interview that, “Teachers aren’t paid nearly enough to risk their lives for their jobs, and many teachers are themselves from at-risk populations,” he said. “If schools open this fall, you may see teachers refuse to work unless they can work remotely, which would force districts to keep operating at least partially remotely on an indefinite basis. Far from things returning to normal and getting back on track this fall, they may instead just keep getting worse.”
Echoing Ferreira’s sentiment, the New York Times science reporter, Donald G. McNeil Jr. warned that, “…if you open schools, the children may be fine, but the teachers won’t necessarily be and the children’s parents and grandparent’s wont be.”
Experts say that parents should be prepared for not a mass return for students to campuses; however, it may look like more of a staggered return instead, where half go to school at one time before others, while attempting to keep social distancing practices in place.
However, before any returns to campuses happen for anyone, students first need to build up their immunity to the virus and not by attending deadly “Coronavirus parties,” either. “The only way schools are going to open in a way that isn’t totally disruptive is if we have a really easy and efficient COVID-19 testing program in place,” Ferreira said. “That would still be very complicated because it would mean that students who had tested positive could return to school and those who hadn’t would continue to be homeschooled by their parents.”
As you can see, there is no easy answer to this question. Parents may have to prepare for students to be out of the class room well into 2021 or at least until there is a vaccine available for everyone. The one thing that can be agreed upon is that this pandemic has shown a bright light on just how broken our educational system truly is. The one positive take-a-way, leaders and educators are being forced back to the drawing board to take a deeper look at fixing it all.