The case against school staying remote
As schools slowly begin to reopen and lockdown meets its end, there is a great ongoing debate about whether such action is appropriate or beneficial to the American people.
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) announced they would be reopening on October 9, presenting a difficult choice for students at CCHS of whether or not to return to campus at some point.
One pivotal reason to reopen schools is the prevalence of mental health concerns amongst teenagers. It has become evident that throughout the pandemic, psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety have largely increased among youth.
The rate of depression, anxiety and suicide had increased significantly throughout the duration of the pandemic. Research done by Brown University states that “children and adolescents are more likely to have high rates of depression, and probably anxiety, even after the enforced isolation resulting from the COVID‐19 pandemic.”
The study suggests that the longer enforced isolation continues, the greater the possibility of an increase in these disorders. The message to clinicians is that preventive and early intervention services should be offered where possible now and that they should be prepared for these increases in the future.
The rate of depression, anxiety and suicide had increased significantly throughout the duration of the pandemic.
The results are very clear that the longer the isolation continues, the more these psychiatric problems will occur among the youth at a significantly higher rate than previously. This may seem like a simple inconvenience to many, however, such disorders sometimes result in suicide. An example of this tragedy would be Texas, where suicide is the second leading cause of death in the age group of 10 to 34 according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The performance of students attending online schooling has been mediocre at best and as a result of a lack of strict government sanction, many still continue to engage in social activities, making the informal “lockdown” pointless.
Throughout the lockdown, schools had to find a controlled way to manage education. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, students’ grades on average have begun to decline. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “the 2019–2020 school year was cut by at least one third relative to its normal length, which, assuming linear increments in growth over the year and no major other obstacles, suggests a loss of at least 0.1 [Standard Deviation] across the board, and larger in earlier grades.”
This suggests that online schooling has had a detrimental effect on students’ grades. It is obvious that schooling could not have been put on pause, as it would have probably resulted in an even greater loss. However, the alternative of reopening schools seems like a far superior solution.
This suggests that online schooling has had a detrimental effect on students’ grades.
One might argue that students will be at a large risk of being exposed to COVID-19 if schools reopen. However, studies show that a great deal of the young populace have already been putting themselves at risk.
In a survey conducted by Stanford University of over 20,000 people through social media, 39.8% of respondents said they were not complying with social distancing recommendations. 52.5% of respondents aged between 18 and 31 admitted to not complying with the shelter-in-place order.
Such statistics prove the lockdown policy to be useless unless enforced by the government. Although one may consider these to be low numbers, they are not, as these people eventually spread the disease further to their families.
As schools are reopened with procedures for social distancing and mask wearing, students might be safer than they would be if they were at home. At such point, reopening schools will make little difference to the overall spread of the pandemic.
The reopening of schools carries with it a net positive that will likely not be outweighed by the negative. Rates of psychiatric disorders will go down, student performance will increase and COVID-19 numbers will only be minimally increased, if at all. BCPS made the right choice in deciding that schools should be reopened.
Returning to in-person schooling has serious consequences
BY CHRIS GOMES
The coronavirus has quite literally plagued society for the whole of 2020, forcing a different way of life for more than six months. Ever since March 13, students and staff have been forced to stay at home, and in late August returned to school digitally.
Since then, Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Superintendent Robert Runcie set an opening date for October 9 for in-person classes and teachers were stuck with choosing between returning to school, applying for an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation or taking a leave of absence.
In addition, coronavirus infections continue to grow and Florida has been labeled as an epicenter of the virus. Counties such as Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach continue to have the highest infection rates throughout Florida. Knowing that, it makes little sense to return to in-person learning when the coronavirus is still very much alive.
Knowing that, it makes little sense to return to in-person learning when the coronavirus is still very much alive.
On top of affecting students, teachers and staff were practically forced to return to in-person classrooms and many teachers and their union disagree with the measures. Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco says teachers wanted to know what they were returning to.
“What they did yesterday was unprofessional, inconsiderate and just reckless,” Fusco said. “What does social distancing look like? What are the safety measures? What is the cleanliness? What is the air quality?”
The threat of COVID-19 is still persistent, regardless of what may be an envisioned plan. Too many variables need to be met in order for a safe return to school. The human factor cannot be ignored.
Broward students have to wear masks on the bus, in the hallways and anytime they’re moving around campus.
The human factor cannot be ignored.
Even if all things go right, some students may not wear masks as a “joke,” jeopardizing everyone else’s safety and well-being. Students already don’t wear IDs, so how can they be realistically expected to all wear masks? The repercussions for not doing so are well above any consequences that could be handed out to the student.
Many lives are at stake. The coronavirus is no joking matter and shouldn’t be treated as such. We’ve seen countries, states and counties reopen too early and face the phenomena known as the “second wave,” where they encounter more cases than were first envisioned.
The safest approach would be remote learning until coronavirus cases continue to dwindle, in order to ensure tranquility for both staff and students alike.
Photo by Fallan Patterson