Should Kids Go Back to School Fall 2020?

Should Our Kids Go Back to School in the Fall?
Homeschooling never looked so good

Should our kids go back to school fall 2020? Back to school in the fall is what we do. It’s a time of dressing up with new “school” clothes and filling the back pack with freshly sharpened pencils and clean notebooks. Kids are eager to make new friends and meet their teachers. I remember the fruity smell of my new textbooks, hot off the press and how I wanted to breathe in all the wonderful things the book would be teaching me.

When my daughter went off to kindergarten, I asked the bus driver if I could ride the bus too. I wasn’t so sure she could find her classroom. As I stepped aboard, I looked for an empty seat. Can I sit next to you? I asked. What happened next, I did not expect. “No” the little whippersnapper said. So I stood in the aisle and loomed large, the only adult on the bus besides for the driver. Finally back home, I remember the feeling of freedom and relief. My little one was safe at school and I could do whatever I pleased. First days of school were always welcomed and exciting. I waited eagerly to hear how the first day went.

Many parents look forward to Fall, especially after they’ve struggled to keep the kids occupied all summer. Not to mention the comfort that comes with knowing our children are taken care of, safe, fed, and learning. But then came COVID-19 and our blessed tradition was nipped in the bud. 

This 2020 Fall is unique. School poses a new threat to our children. That incipient virus is looming around poking us at every turn with doubt, worry, and fear. Did I touch my face after the grocery store? Did I remember to wash my hands? 

News reports are dismal. We see the ICU packed with patients on ventilators, their swollen pale legs sticking out of the sheets, the refrigerated trucks brought in to store bodies. Who are these people getting the virus? Why them? Then we hear rumors that the testing is not fool proof and that we don’t know how long the antibodies protect a person. Worst of all, there might not be such a thing as herd immunity. If not, how do we hold the hope that things will improve? 

A vaccine is in the works, but we don’t know how effective it will be. And then there are our children. At first, news reports said children were not susceptible. Now we know that is not true. We also know that they can be carriers and bring the virus home to their elderly relatives. Now we know that children can get the virus and it can be serious. 

There are so many unknowns, it is more than difficult to decide how and when our kids should go back to school. 

Here are some important notes taken from a blog post opinion by Erin Bromage CNN

“We must prioritize improving air quality by bringing more fresh air inside our classrooms and upgrading the air filtration. We must make our buildings healthy!

The federal government has provided bailouts for businesses and individuals, but if we want the schools to reopen in the fall, it’s time to invest in our schools.

In Australia, where they were reporting only 10-20 new cases per day for most of June, an outbreak in a school spread among teachers and students, and then radiated out into the community. By July 9, the outbreak included 58 students, 21 staff and 14 households — a total of 119 new infections, with the number growing daily. This outbreak, and other clusters developing around Melbourne, shut down a city of 4.5 million people for the next six weeks to suppress the outbreak.

The average public school size in the US is 576 students. If we are looking at a SARS-CoV-2 community-level incidence of 1-2%, as we are currently observing in some of our hotspots, then six to 11 students attending a typical public school will have an active infection, which could be passed to their peers and school faculty.”

Could we be sending our children off into a danger zone if they attend school? President Trump has said, “Schools must open. We will cut off funding if they do not open.” Then teachers say, “He should sit in the classroom with the kids coughing and sputtering their stuff all over.”

There is no clear answer. No one wants to put their children at risk, yet there is so much to lose by not going back. 

Reasons to go back to school: 

  1. Children are taken care of so parents can work.
  2. We thrive on connection. It is in our DNA. Going to school brings essential social interaction to children’s lives and improves mental health.
  3. Most students learn best with a live teacher. The teacher can execute control and motivation in a live the classroom.
  4. It’s difficult for teachers to all of a sudden come up with a curriculum and ways of monitoring online learning.

Reasons not to go back to school

  1. The virus can be spread more easily in closed classrooms.
  2. Children and teachers can die. It is predicted that 1-2% will get sick.
  3. Our schools do not have good ventilation systems with fresh air exchange in most cases.
  4. If a teacher does get sick she would be absent from the class for a good four to eight weeks.
  5. Children can be carriers and bring the virus home to their family if they are exposed.

How do we decide? Most schools are offering a cocktail of online and in-classroom learning. I have heard of everything from one to two days in school with the remainder learning online at home, to attending all days in school, to not holding any classes at school, only online learning. Some schools are letting the parents decide.

My granddaughter Abby was super excited to be going to BYU Hawaii this fall for her first semester, until she got the notice that her school buildings will not open, but classes will be held online. Abby does not particularly learn well this way. She thrives on social interaction and learns best with a live teacher, as do many students. She is so sad. My heart breaks for her and all the kids who can’t go back to school. 

The question is what will some parents do who must get back to work yet don’t have adequate child care? We are struggling through important decisions. 

I hope that a year from now, we will say, “Remember when?” and corona virus will fade as a distant memory.

Homeschoolers do not have to make these painful decisions about the kids going back to school. They are already setup for learning at home and children are more protected from exposure to the virus. Perhaps you are thinking, this is one of the reasons why we home school. —If you are looking for a boost to your homeschool curriculum try, Times Alive.

Meanwhile, if we all wear masks, they say we can lessen this thing, stamp it out. 

At first I hated wearing a mask. I didn’t particularly like smelling my breath instead of the fresh air. Then there was that ingrained belief that masks are for robbers, or for keeping yourself hidden because you are up to no good. Not being able to use my smile at the grocery store, was a sorry handicap to communication. People didn’t seem to hear me correctly. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone and then I felt shut out.  Have you noticed that people don’t look at each other as much? 

My state, Minnesota, has mandated the wearing of masks inside stores and public places. Now that it is common practice I am getting used to it. I still feel socially distant to people, but I guess that is the point. If the mask can help. I can wear it and I do.

Covid has been hard on our need for connection. And schools not opening in the Fall is another thorn in our sides.

So, should kids go back to school? What do you think? Take this quick survey before August 3rd and we will post the results.

Stay safe. Wear your mask. I love us. We are doing our best!

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