Opening Schools Shouldn’t Be the Priority

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

As the number of serious COVID-19 cases is on the decline, President Joe Biden has made it a part of his 100-day plan to ensure that most K-8 schools reopen to students and teachers. He says that he expects them to be open for the full five days a week like pre-COVID. 

I understand that it’s important for students, especially younger ones, to return to an in-person environment. However, I feel like it’s just flat-out irresponsible to put both students and teachers in that kind of situation. In this situation, they’re not vaccinated and are actively interacting with other people. Without the proper precautions, going to school can worsen the problem.

It has been a tough year for students at any level since COVID-19 shut everything down, but I feel like it has been especially awful for students in the K-8 grade levels. These education levels are crucial for the development of children. 

According to Politico, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said that vaccinating all teachers before going back into the classroom would be “non-workable.” So why would President Biden claim to have the grand plan to open up K-8 schools in his first 100 days in office if his top advisers on the pandemic said that it’s “non-workable”? 

This rash decision will not only ravage the teachers, it will impact the children — specifically Black students, who are at a higher risk than their peers. According to the University of Michigan, Black people are three times more likely to get COVID-19. With schools going back to in-person instruction, Black students would have to take more caution if there was a return to school. Understandably, students would want to go back to school, but is it worth putting Black students, Black teachers and their families at risk? 

Due to the pandemic, students have had to stay home and experience virtual learning’s ups and downs. Now we can all confidently say that virtual school isn’t the same as in-person learning. You’re not exclusively paying attention to the lessons, and you’re just not engaged. It has gotten so bad that school systems consider summer school to make up for lack of learning.

I understand the rush for trying to get students back into school buildings and out of the house. If I were in the students’ shoes, I would want to go back as well. It’s been almost a full year since this started. However, people have to make sacrifices, and I know everyone is tired of hearing that phrase. We’ve been collectively hearing it as a country ever since late March of last year. 

However, such a sentiment still remains true. Parents shouldn’t have to worry about whether schools will reopen and potentially send their child back into a potentially contagious environment. President Biden is wrong for making this proclamation without consulting this team of people who are well-versed in this area. 

Ryland Staples is a graduating senior strategic communication major from Silver Spring, Maryland.

FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo Los Angeles Unified School District students attend online classes at Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood in Los Angeles. After weeks of tense negotiations, California legislators agreed Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, on a $6.5 billion proposal aimed at getting students back in classrooms this spring following months of closures because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

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