Stop Believing We Can Reopen Schools This Year (Or Even Next Year)

The sooner we admit reopening schools will lead to disaster, the sooner we can begin a smooth transition to distance learning.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In Georgia, a second grader has tested positive for COVID-19 after the first day of school, forcing the class to quarantine.

Every single epidemiologist, doctor, and scientist agrees: reopening schools is a ridiculous idea. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that, after plague rats, children are the strongest form of disease vector on the planet. They lick doorknobs and their fingers. Play in the dirt and shove pencils in their mouth. Don’t wash their hands, hawk loogies, and do all types of unsanitary things that without modern medicine, I’d be surprised so many of us survive to adulthood. Oh, and we’re shoving a class of 200 into a single cafeteria to eat lunch in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Oddly, we would choose not to reopen movie theaters and sports stadiums due to COVID-19 risks, but we would concurrently choose to send our most valuable assets — our nation's future — to school to get sick and bring illness back to their homes as well. Who is pushing reopening? Certainly not teachers; they are updating their wills in case they die of COVID-19 once school begins. In large part, school districts have been pressured by parents, who understandably find it difficult to juggle work with child care. To point the fingers straight at parents and deride them for “wanting to kill their own kids” is an unproductive action. The federal government, which up to this point has been doing nothing, should be giving large amounts of money to force parents who cannot work from a distance to stay home. If we can flatten the curve and return to normalcy soon, perhaps our economy can be saved; with current unemployment numbers, highest mortgage default percentages in 21 years, and 160,000+ dead Americans, we cannot just sit idly by and “wait until COVID runs its’ course.” Hoping our economy will fix itself is about as effective as hoping children will happily stay in their seats six feet apart all day and never take off their masks.

I give it less than a month before any K-12 school will shut down. It’s a foregone conclusion that any school that opens will have an outbreak, to the point where I suspect the only reason school districts are going through we reopening is to delay having to set up distance learning systems. Why do we need dead kids (and their families) to realize this outbreak will not be over in November? News flash. COVID will not be gone by the end of 2020. COVID will not be gone next year, either. Events in March and April of 2021 are being canceled, and we need to start planning for outbreak waves to occur repeatedly over and over again until a vaccine is developed and everyone receives it (anti-vax parents will undoubtedly push the date back even further).

Some universities, too, are reopening in the fall. Though I have slightly more faith that college students will not lick lamp posts or share face masks, at the end of the day, it only takes one outbreak to shut down a college as scared parents pull their children out. Stick with figuring out a way to distance learning for everything, and use the money saved to cut the $60,000+ tuition. It’s not just for the students; tenure professors and senior staff are crucial parts of every university (and, as elderly, are the highest risk group). Having Nobel prize and MacArther fellowship winners die because a university refused to mandate distance learning is not good PR.

Don’t expect the federal government to help; they are the ones pushing for reopening to help Trump’s re-election. Jared Kushner isn’t going to save us; it’s time to save ourselves. Vote in November and push for distance learning and financial assistance.

After all, “It is what it is.

to write is human; to edit, divine |

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