Schools Are Tenuously Reopening- But is That the Right Decision?

David Furst, Writer

Imagine: Coming back to the beginning of a new semester or quarter, from a classroom of cameras and screens to an in-person environment of masks and distancing. For some schools and places, this is rapidly becoming a reality. The question must be asked, though: are we ready? Is this safe for the children and the families that they go back home to? Depending on who you ask, the answer varies widely. According to a survey done by Chicago Public Schools in relation to their reopening plan, parents are split between yes, maybe, and no students should not go physically back to school. Interestingly, staff and especially teachers have a strong majority saying no while students at a high school level strongly wish to re attend.

The Beacon asked Whitney Young students for their opinion about re attending school. From Mark Mulcrone ’21: “As we go in to flu season it’s already not a great time to be in the majority of schools. Another thing to consider especially for our school is the sheer volume of students who take public transportation.” He brings up a fair point- not only is being in school potentially risky, all students have to somehow get to school and back home again each and every day. This introduces all sorts of potential exposure opportunities. Liam Johnson ’21 also weighs in: “Even with safety measures [returning] still provides a risk, and while most students could probably handle getting sick well, their families may not.” The interaction of social bubbles is a primary area of thought when considering the spread of COVID-19. Sending students to school drastically increases the overlap of these bubbles from a family size to a whole community. We can model the consequences of a change of this magnitude, but we will never know exactly how it will turn out unless schools and governments take the step and reopen schools. We all hope for students to be back in schools, but that needs to be done on a schedule that keeps all students, staff, and families safe.