While reopening schools may seem appealing to parents and students, cases are still rising all over the state and are predicted to worsen with the upcoming holiday season. Almost all Southern California counties have already announced that the Spring semester of 2021 will remain online, including PCC. As of right now, this is the best route California can take in order to contain the virus and decrease cases.
Recently, Governor Newsom announced that his four children would be resuming in-person classes at the private schools in Northern California they attend amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The process in which students return to schools is referred to as a phased-in approach, meaning the schools only allow certain grades to attend at a time, starting with younger students. They are also practicing what they call hybrid learning, a combination of in-person and remote learning.
California schools aren’t required to announce if in-person classes have resumed and state public health officials have not been tracking it. The information that has been released is that private and public schools can be allowed to reopen using the phased-in approach if their county has gotten out of the widespread tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. We also know that at least 40 counties have some students back in their in-person classes. These schools only allow students in kindergarten through 6th grade to attend in-person at this time.
The topic of schools being able to resume in person classes is up to the separate counties. In Sacramento and Riverside, only private schools have been allowed to reopen. However, in Shasta county, five of their schools had to close again due to positive cases within them. The state has ruled that if a school has a 5% positivity rate or higher, they must suspend in-person classes.
With 6.1 million K-12th grade students throughout California, along with around 2.7 million college students of all ages, school districts are tasked in resolving many problematic issues. Regularly, classrooms would be filled with 20 to 40 students, and college classes would have up to 200 students in a single lecture room sometimes. District officials have to figure out how to distance their students with the amount of spaces the campuses have. This could be challenging for smaller campuses or campuses with a larger population.
Many schools are suffering from having less staff members and they also have a problem finding substitute teachers with the dangerous pandemic still in full affect. Another problem they are facing is the lack of sufficient funding or resources for mandatory employee COVID-19 testing.
Even with this phased-in approach at reintroducing young students back into in-person learning, there are still many flaws. Children in kindergarten and even into first and second grade can be extremely messy; touching anything and everything all day long. It can easily be anticipated that kids will refuse to wear their face masks all day, or throw tantrums over following rules like washing their hands and staying socially distanced. Sometimes children can be hard to control, which completely is normal, but during a time like this it is extremely important for them to obey these guidelines.
There is also the risk of contracting the virus from outside of the school, then spreading it among students and teachers later on. Even with social distancing and mandatory mask guidelines in place, college and high school campuses are becoming hotspots for COVID-19 all over the country.
Within the past few weeks, during the active school semester, many college parties and gatherings have been popping up on campuses throughout all the states. These students are all in close proximity with each other, not wearing masks, sharing drinks, etc. Then they’ll proceed to class the next day. This issue affects everyone, even students who are not participating in these get-togethers, and is one of the main reasons COVID-19 is spreading so fast on campuses that allow in-person classes.
All in all, reopening schools in California is very ill-advised. It would be very easy for students and teachers to contract COVID-19, and possibly spread it to friends and family as well. It can be extremely dangerous, especially for densely populated counties like Los Angeles. The ideal thing to do would be keeping school closures in place in order to obtain the best results in slowing the spread of the virus.
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