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Should Schools Reopen This Semester?

by Vincent Tran

For most students, it has been a long, distanced, online school year. Recently, it was the one-year anniversary since the declaration of the pandemic. COVID had consumed almost all outside activities. However, with vaccines starting to roll out, some outdoor sports restarting, and the rate of COVID cases decreasing, state governors have reached a point where they must decide whether in-person learning is safe to resume. Some states, such as Texas, Arkansas, Florida, and Iowa, are fully reopening. Others, such as California, Hawaii, and Delaware, are pushing towards that goal. Many are still undecided. Such actions beg the question: should other states and schools follow this direction, or would it be safer to finish off this school year online and attempt to reopen in the fall?

Clarifying the reopening of schools, states are seriously considering COVID precautions and practices to prevent the spread of infection. Such measures contain the spread as effectively as possible. In the majority of partially reopened schools, the number of students that qualify to go back to school and the days that students are allowed to return are strictly regulated. They are also subject to reclosure in the event of widespread infection. The option of staying online is available to almost every student.

Some schools not yet reopened are being urged by their state governor to reopen as soon as possible. In California, with federal funding being threatened, Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a $2 billion incentive for schools to reopen in March and April to prevent such cuts. Some districts, such as the San Diego Unified School District, have made plans to make available the hybrid option starting on April 12th.Other states have not followed suit, but are exploring options available to persuade schools to reopen to those who have not performed well online.

Since the start of the pandemic, many academically focused students have had concerns and worries about their futures. Results have shown that such concerns proved to be true. Some San Diego County high schools have reported significantly higher rates of failing grades than years past. Schools in St. Paul, Minnesota have seen a double in rates of failing grades - from 20 to 40 percent. There is no question that a large number of students have been detrimentally affected by the pandemic. As many continue to suffer, more continue to advocate for the reopening of schools.

The most compromisable solution would be to allow those who need the physical school environment to succeed the option to be taught in person under COVID precautions. A safe environment would be able to be held in smaller numbers, especially in comparison to a full reopening. There should be no issue partially reopening to those who desperately need it - from a student standpoint over a financial one. Those who have seen little-to-no negative impact from online schooling should wait for vaccines or the pandemic to further die down to ensure the safety of as many people as possible. Even if the student is unlikely to exhibit symptoms, there is still the worry of spreading the virus, which can cause shutdowns to drag out longer than necessary, impacting everyone negatively. Students, especially those that stay online, should be guaranteed resources that can help with any emotional struggle they may be enduring, especially during this time.

To conclude, even though the spread of COVID is decreasing, the pandemic is still a very-real ongoing issue. A complete reopening, especially with public schools with hundreds or thousands of students, could endanger those that students interact with outside of school, not just them. Helping a smaller portion of students who have shown that they require in-person assistance is a necessary step in the right direction. Regardless of what side of the coin you are on, there is hope for the future that more schools will reopen soon. Hopefully, by fall, the trainwreck of the 2020-21 school year will be an ugly memory of the past.


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