No, Covid-19 isn’t gone yet. Yes, we need to open our schools.
School and other social activities like sports are integral to the healthy development of children and adolescents. And, despite the current pandemic, we need to send our kids back to school.
Advocating to send kids back to school does not make me a “grandma-killer.” Students deal with stress and anxiety throughout their schooling and adding a pandemic into the mix certainly isn’t helping. In fact, school is often an escape for students. It’s where they learn, congregate with friends, and take refuge from rough home lives.
During the coronavirus pandemic, reports of suicide and domestic violence have been up. Strangely, reports of child abuse have decreased. Advocacy groups attribute this to the loss of opportunity to report or detect. School provides children with an outlet for help. Their teachers and guidance counselors are trusted adults who have access to vital resources. Without this ability, vulnerable children are subject to spending increased amounts of time in bad homes, possibly endangering their wellbeing.
Secretary of Education Betsy Devos told Fox News Sunday, “American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise.”
Critics have been quick to attack the idea of schools reopening, as well as her warning of the possible withholding of funds. But if schools reopen with practical measures like social distancing, cleaning, changes in scheduling, and masks, what’s the problem? If these measures are good enough for grocery stores, why aren’t they good enough for our schools?
Just like grocery stores and hospitals, education is essential.
According to Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.” If this is the case, masks are very effective against Covid-19 and thus schools should be able to open and operate with their use.
Devos is right when it comes to withholding funding from schools that refuse to open. Schools are abandoning their students and damaging their emotional and social health, as well as their educational future. Furthermore, if a school chooses to operate entirely online, it by no means needs the funding it normally receives from the federal government. The services that an online school provides are limited compared to in person. It makes sense to take away unnecessary funds from schools that are not providing for their students.
Not only do we know how to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, but initial research has suggested that children are much less likely to contract or spread the virus than their adult counterparts. One study found that children and teenagers were only half as likely to contract and spread the virus.
According to pediatrician Dr. William Raszka Jr., “The evidence suggests that children are less likely to become infected, less likely to develop severe disease, and less likely to transmit the virus to other children and adults.”
Children are safer, and we can’t with good conscience keep damaging their development and futures.
While her critics have mischaracterized her statements, Secretary Devos is not advocating for a one-size-fits-all approach to reopening. She has been very clear that state and local governments must develop plans according to their own data and resources. She explained that this could mean having less in-person days than normal, along with other measures to prevent unnecessary interaction.
Each area of the country must design an approach that addresses their specific needs during this pandemic. But overall, students must return to school.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.