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Let kids stay safe

Most schools in the US (and across the globe) have now been in largely virtual mode for about a year. It has come with a set of challenges. Kids have fallen behind in the learning curve, younger kids haven’t quite been able to adapt to virtual platforms and frankly for some (yours truly included), virtual learning isn’t the best mode. Yet, despite these negatives, virtual schooling has kept us way more secure. The transmission risk of in-person school could put many students and teachers alike in harm’s way.

Yet, there is an increasing outcry of late to open up schools in fully in-person or at least in hybrid mode. People pressuring schools to open don’t seem to have the appreciation of how hard it may become for many others if schools were to suddenly return to in-person schedule.

This is not about throwing in the towel on in-person instruction. Rather, this is about staying safe and taking every precaution we can to keep COVID19 at bay. The Trump administration has also not helped by plying down the gravity of the pandemic, and school districts have largely been left to figure things out on their own.

Black and Latino communities have been hit hardest by COVID19. They also have the most at stake if schools were to return to in-person schedule. Students of color are more likely to attend high-poverty schools, which have faced the biggest challenges getting buildings ready for safe in-person instruction or supplying students with the computers and internet access needed for remote classes. Parents of color - mostly hyphenated Americans, have also been among the most hesitant to send their children back to school. They have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, more so than most other demographics. They have seen the awfulness of this virus from up close.

Maybe there is a way to make schools safe, but right now we don’t even fully know what that means. Is it just about ventilation systems and protective equipment and on-site testing? I say let’s continue with virtual school till such time we can get somewhat user to building herd immunity against this virus. It’s not the most desirable option by far, but it certainly is the safest. 

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