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Returning to the classroom has more questions than answers

BY ZAC OAKES

zac@amnews.com

 

Like many of you, I’ve been curiously watching and reading as more information about what the return to school classrooms may look like this fall in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that seems to be trending the wrong direction at a time we hoped it would slow down.

Let me start off by commending all the people that are involved in trying to work on this issue and doing the best they can. All the people in our local school districts and community involved with creating plans have been given a very difficult hand and undoubtedly have been working as hard as they can to try to make this school year as normal as possible for this community’s students.

For that, these individuals need to be commended and praised. Their meticulous planning, dedication, and time invested in this should not go unnoticed.

Even with the best of planning though, it’s hard to envision a scenario where this works out as planned.

It’s hard to envision a scenario where elementary school students wear a mask like they need to.

It’s hard to envision a scenario where school staff will be able to regularly keep children who haven’t seen their best friends in nearly six months six feet apart.

It’s hard to envision a scenario in which hundreds of students and adults gather in an indoor environment and there’s not a major outbreak.

To me, that may be the scariest part. I know that young people generally handle COVID-19 well and bounce back relatively quickly, but what about those students who have immunocompromised parents or siblings at home? What about the hundreds of students that live with their grandparents, who fall into the high-risk category?

Along with that, the point that I think bears repeating is that we do not have one clue what this virus does to people long-term. We don’t know what it does to a person’s lungs, heart, kidneys, or brain long after they “get over” the virus.

Could we see huge swaths of people die in their 40s and 50s down the road with serious lung problems because they contracted COVID-19 in their teenage years along with their 20s and 30s?

Then the teachers. A lot of questions remain about what this looks like for teachers. In speaking with just a couple teacher friends of mine, they have no clue what to expect this year and when they’ve posed questions, there are a lack of answers.

That’s just it. With all the questions surrounding COVID-19, there are a lot of questions but not a lot of answers. Not a lot of reliable, fact-based answers anyway. It seems that everybody has their own answer that they gathered from a Facebook meme or a YouTube video made in a basement, but the reality is that we just don’t know.

I understand the people who want students to return to the school building though. The importance of that for our youth’s health and well-being, not to mention their education, cannot be understated. I think we all agree there.

But it’s hard to see how this works out well when so many questions remain and a ton of uncertainty lingers.

I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. All I know is I don’t envy those individuals who have to make those decisions and those individuals in education who will do whatever they need to in order to try to make this school year a success.

They deserve our respect, and this pandemic has shown just how important those individuals are to our society.