When the Coronavirus Pandemic first began, I wondered what my life would be like moving forward as a college student. I was concerned about moving out of my dorm, worried about how some of my classes would make the transition to being completely online, and just wondering what was to come. On top of all of that, I was concerned about the safety of my parents. My fears were birthed from the fact that both of them are teachers whose ages fall in the initially reported COVID-19 danger zone.
My parents are natural born educators, inside and outside of the classroom. For as long as I can remember they've been working with students at almost every grade level. My mom currently teaches fifth grade and leads the Student Leadership Council at her school. My dad teaches middle school aged students and coaches the tennis and debate team. Helping the next generation learn and discover new interests is something they are both truly passionate about.
This passion has slightly shifted to concern because of the confusion surrounding this coming school year. With the recent statement that federal funding could be revoked if schools don't return in person this fall, I sat down with my parents to discuss this new concern of our reality. They both have their individual concerns, but they all relate back to one thing - how safe is it for students and teachers to be returning to school in person?
One of the first things my mother brought up was that there is no real plan about how to keep everyone in the schools safe. Plans are changing daily, and when they begin to prepare/consider preparations for one idea, new information is released. Partnered with this concern, is the fear of not having enough cleaning supplies to effectively clean classrooms. Aside from those base level questions about safety, there is still the worry about what happens when children become sick. When speaking with my father about his own worries, he stated that he wasn't sure who would be affected by quarantine rules if a student contracts the virus. For example, if a kindergarten student gets sick, does their entire classroom stay home, or does the whole grade level? It's even unclear whether or not the whole school would have to stay home.
Contract-tracing has played a huge role throughout the pandemic. This is because it is important to make sure that everyone who may have come in contact with someone who is infected with the virus is aware of the new case. But my parents and other education professionals are trying to figure out how that would work in a school setting? Also, there is the potential of uneasy parents contacting teachers about students in their child's class becoming sick. This information cannot be shared due to HIPAA rules and regulations.
Also, schools have to make sure there are procedures put in place so that students are able to catch up when returning to school after being sick. With the inconsistencies that going back to school may cause in the fall, some children will potentially fall behind, as teachers work diligently to try and make sure they learn the information they missed. Overall, there are so many unanswered questions about the new school year. I feel for the parents, students, teachers, administrators, and anyone concerned about what is to come. I pray for the safety of my parents, as well as the safety of their future students and co-workers daily. No one should have to worry about risking their lives because schools are mandated to open. I just hope that solid and effective plans are released nationwide to keep everyone healthy and safe.