As the school year starts up again about a month from now, expectations for what this year holds differ greatly from people’s wishes back a couple of months ago. Near the end of the last academic year, there was the idea that students, whether that be kindergarten or seniors in college, would be going back with some regulations in place.
However, as months have gone by throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, the question is: Is it safe for students to return to school? And if so, what measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of students and faculty? These questions and many others loom above the heads of administrators and government officials with no answer truly being the right one.
On the one hand, students need the social interaction of schools: seeing their friends every day, the basic interactions with another person. But on the other side of the spectrum, even if students are ‘less likely’ to be severely affected by COVID-19, what about the faculty or parents, grandparents, basically every single person?
Different states are enhancing different approaches to the schooling question. Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, and Commissioner of the Department of Education, Richard Corcoran, have been facing mass scrutiny after they announced on July 6th that all “brick and mortar schools” must remain open for “at least five days per week for all students,” using the defense that they must ensure the quality of education and the well-being of students. This raises concern that the political and economic agenda has taken precedence over the safety of its students.
In response to the forced reopening, Florida teachers and the Florida Education Association have filed multiple lawsuits against the Governor. Instead, which many of the teachers argue, the decision should be left up to each individual school district as to whether or not to open up full-time, hybrid, or online, to their students. With numbers continuing to spike day-after-day in Florida, the question of opening up seems more beneficial, in terms of safety, to keep students home.
In comparison, with a state whose numbers have been mostly decreasing, New York, specifically New York City, blended learning tends to be the leaning agreement for the time being. In the city, each school’s principal will choose one of two models in order to maintain social distancing.
The first model has the students divided into two groups, while the second model divides them into three. Within both of these models, students will attend in-person classes between one to three days per week, with the rest virtual. Students are also given the option to enroll full-time remote learning.
The range as to the decision on whether or not to reopen schools for in-person learning varies from state to state, but which way is the most beneficial? There is no true answer to this question. The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought about a time of uncertainty and unknowns. There is very little precedent in this technological age that we can base our decisions off of. One thing is for certain, the safety of not only students, but faculty, administration, and parents, is an important and necessary factor to focus on in this new phase of our new normal.