It’s too soon to reopen schools

Ilse Orta Mederos, Columnist

When I first heard the discussion about opening schools once more, I was skeptical. It made me question how effective it could be in the long run if they were to open schools once more, since we still have the ongoing issue of COVID-19. 

In this situation, I feel like there would be two main issues that we would be facing. First, there is no guarantee that by the time children go back to school in an in-person setting everyone involved will be vaccinated. Second, we don’t know if every school will be able to implement proper measures to maintain a clean and safe environment for everyone. 

It also brought forward the question of whether there will be guidelines that every school district will need to follow, and how they will make sure those guidelines will be enforced in order to avoid having another surge of COVID-19 cases.

Everyone knows that children, especially young ones, are full of energy and need to be able to release that energy otherwise they can become cranky. When schools first started closing it didn’t look so bad, maybe a few weeks of being able to sleep in and not having to attend classes. 

Nonetheless, this quickly became boring, and for some even anxiety inducing a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed. Their inability to go out and play with their friends made this all the more unbearable for those children who thrive in social interactions. To top it off, they were expected to keep up with their school work and maintain good grades while the world as they knew it crumbled around them. 

The United States in particular made it hard for things to go “back to normal.” There were a lot, and still are a lot, of people who didn’t follow the proper steps to keep themselves and others safe, which has prolonged the issue for longer than needed. 

Regardless, allowing school to re-open for the new school term could also help lessen a big burden for some families. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been quite obvious that people have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. A lot of people had their workload increased while maintaining the same salary, while others lost their jobs and even their homes.

When schools closed, it created even further conflict for some families who could not afford to stay at home to watch their young children if they wished to continue being able to pay for necessities. And, while online classes allowed students to continue learning in a safe environment, it did not take away the fact that for some families, it was not a sustainable option.

While I do have to agree that having schools re-opening could bring benefits for the children themselves such as having access to food, essential services and child welfare, it should not blind people to the risks that these actions create. Although children can be considered low-risk, this does not guarantee they won’t get sick. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children can also be asymptomatic and can carry COVID-19 and infect others who could be high-risk. All of this could ultimately lead to an increase of COVID-19 cases, which would then force schools to close and students to attend online classes, making all of this process a waste of time. 

It might be hard to hear, but ultimately, having an online setting might be the safest decision everyone can make in terms of keeping COVID-19 controlled. At the same time, resources should go into making sure that children and their families are getting the help they need to do online classes.