As we begin to think about schools reopening in the fall, the news media is filled with pundits assessing the effects of the mass closure of schools in March of this year. There is much discussion as to whether or not to keep schools closed or reopen schools within certain limitations and regulations in August. The general consensus seems to be that it is far healthier for children to be with other children as far as social, mental and emotional health than it is to be isolated at home. However, the fear is that children may carry the coronavirus home to other siblings, parents, and grandparents, while they, themselves, remain asymptomatic.
The effects of school closures have been devastating for many school children of all ages. First of all, children have been deprived of learning opportunities for personal growth and mental development. Many children relied on school cafeteria meals that were no longer available. Therefore, nutrition was limited with school closings.
Students did not receive the same quality of education that they had been receiving from certified teachers because parents, lacking the proper education and resources, were poorly prepared to teach their children at home. Therefore, learning was compromised and students did not make adequate progress.
Schools provide social activity and human interaction. This is essential for healthy development in children. With schools closed, many children were socially isolated. This isolation has caused depression in some children.
With schools closed, some children were exposed to increased violence and sexual exploitation. Early marriages and teenage pregnancies are on the rise as a result.
On the other hand, according to Education Week most educators are in favor of keeping schools closed to slow the spread of Covid-19. School administrators are presented with a complex problem of reopening schools safely to avoid the spread of the virus or maintaining remote learning into the fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for schools reopening in the fall are extensive such as 6 ft. spacing between desks, wearing face coverings, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently used surfaces between users, among other recommendations. Teachers’ unions are also resisting the reopening of schools and asking for funding to meet the rising costs of additional cleaning equipment, masks, and sanitation supplies. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers stated, “There’s ‘no way’ schools will reopen in the fall citing, lack of funding.”
President Trump recently tweeted in all caps “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” While this discussion will surely continue into the fall, a lot will depend upon whether or not Covid-19 continues to plague our nation. It remains to be seen whether or not schools will reopen with remote learning, traditional teaching, or a mixture of both. This will not be an easy decision for administrators, teachers, or parents!
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