Is it safe to return to school on June 1st? Mixed feelings run high as K-12 students and staff head back to school part-time next week. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It is important for you to weigh all factors and to make the decision you believe is best for your family.
According to recent reports by Dr. Bonnie Henry, children are considered at low risk to contract COVID-19 or to spread it. While there are many unknowns about this virus and we hear conflicting news and reports, these statistics recently released by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine are encouraging. British Columbia, Canada has done a great job of flattening the curve and the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has dramatically decreased.
School districts are doing their best to ensure that schools will be safe for students and adults alike. Staff must follow strict safety protocols that include increased cleaning, increased social distancing, decreased item-sharing, and increased monitoring of flu-like symptoms. Staff and students may only attend school if they are completely free from any flu-like symptoms. Anyone experiencing even mild flu or cold symptoms is asked to stay home.
Is it realistic, however, to expect K-5 students to comply with social distancing? Most teachers and parents see this as an impossible task. Even if all students could follow these protocols, there is no way to guarantee 100% safety and 0% risk of COVID-19 spread. Also, while many people were in quarantine with limited exposure to others, not everyone practiced social distancing in the same way.
K-12 students need closure to the end of their school year. This is especially true for 2020 grad students. It is important for children to reconnect with friends and teachers and regain a sense of normalcy. But, there is no guarantee that K-7 students will be in the same class groupings as before. Classes are being divided to accommodate this part-time, in-school model starting in June.
Families have the option of keeping their children home to continue with full-time online learning. People who are at greater risk or who have family members at risk should follow the advice of their doctor at this time. At-risk staff may also request to continue working full-time from home.
This optional part-time return for K-12 students in June is a trial run for September. Adjustments will be made as administrators and staff monitor this new model. Each parent needs to carefully consider the various factors involved in their unique family dynamic when deciding whether to send their child back to school or not.