Schools across the United States have begun to start back up, and there has been a great deal of political and public tension on whether they should be in person or online. In the midst of a global pandemic it seems like the choice would be obvious to most people, however it isn’t. This time is very stressful for parents, students, and the general public concerned with public health.
The United States is arguably by any measurement one of the worst in its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and many people are suffering from the fear of the potential risk of opening schools. However, simultaneously there is the harm in what closed schools present for families and children on the social, emotional, economic, and academic level in both the short and long-term. As parents, guardians and caregivers may be scrambling to find accommodations to homeschool their children as their surroundings may demand them to leave their homes in order to provide for their households. Additionally, The lack of
in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities. These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs.
A study by researchers at Brown and Harvard Universities assessed how 800,000 students used Zearn, an online math program, both before and after schools closed in March, and the data showed that through late April, student progress in math decreased by about half, with the negative impact more pronounced in low-income zip codes (source). The educational gap is at risk of rising with the shift to online schooling but the lack of public safety is also at risk of rising with the schools being opened. There is no fail proof option being presented at the moment, and the public’s anxiety is on the rise because of that. It is crucial that during this time, caring for people’s mental wellbeing should be pushed to the forefront because of the lack of definitive safe options. In addition to everyone being informed of the potential ramifications either decision on opening schools has on people from all demographics.
By Kevin J.