Stop the opening of schools in September
Stop the opening of schools in September
From March to now, the number of coronavirus cases has doubled and keeps rising every day. Although young adults and those of us in our 20’s and 30’s don’t have as high of a risk as those in their 50’s and higher, we still go home to children and elderly family, we have elderly professors as well. Their health is important, and we run the risk of getting them sick. Educators across the world are really debating whether or not to retire early or quit. We are running the risk of bringing the virus back to our families. Children have a low chance of getting it however during this pandemic, a rare life-threatening multi-system inflammatory sickness has been hitting children, this sickness is connected to the virus, so although they may not get the coronavirus, they may still get this rare disease.
Teachers, and other school staff that I know personally have never been afraid of going back to work, some of them even work in dangerous cities filled with gangs and violence, and considering all of that, they are more afraid of this virus than the gangs. Teachers are trained and have been used to the protocols involved in school shootings, but you can’t prepare for this. No matter how much we know and how much we adjust lesson plans, we will never know how to deal with this nor how to make safety requirements like social distancing and masks work in that environment. Social distancing is impossible. If indoor dining is prohibited although it can be controlled easily, what makes you think opening schools up again won’t be as much of an issue? In fact, the issue is bigger.
Not all jobs are open, and those that are have a limited number of employees. Many people have been furloughed; people aren’t making as much money if any. Yet, schools like New Jersey City University, and Seton Hall have raised their tuition, while other schools like Rutgers and Montclair have frozen theirs. The College of New Jersey cut their tuition by 3.5% for in state students and 2.5% for out of state students. Rowan university also froze their tuition. How does raising tuition make sense during a time like this? School is a stressful place as it is, attending during a pandemic will be worse. With social distancing guidelines, masks, and plexiglass separators, it feels like we’re in a correctional facility instead of a school. Plus, Fall is Cold and flu season, what does this mean for people who may get sick? Will they be prohibited from coming to campus? If so, are you planning on allowing them to do their classes online while sick. If you are, then shouldn’t we just stay online if the chances of going from in person to online are very likely? What’s the point of meeting face-to-face if we’re just ending up online again? Say we go back to school in the Spring, Springtime is allergy season, are you planning on prohibiting allergy sufferers too?
Please understand that we know that this situation is new territory for both you and I, however, even the slightest chances are still a risk. Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins said in a NYTimes article “Even with extensive mitigation measures, it’s not possible to reduce the risk to zero.” That same article mentions a survey that showed that 62% of educators and administrators were scared/worried about returning to school. Jersey City is the second highest city with coronavirus cases. It would be a risk to just drive there. Otto Helve an infectious disease specialist said in Science Magazine “outbreaks in schools are inevitable.” But we can't just worry about the current status of the virus, we also need to worry about a second wave. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease specialist said that a second wave is inevitable. In an interview with Randi Weingarten, the president of AFT (the American Federation of Teachers), Dr. Fauci mentions hotspots (just like Jersey City) and he says that hotspots are “a big red flag for transmission.”
The school wants us to be tested before entering, but unless you will keep having us tested during the semester, that one test is pointless. If I get tested today, and tomorrow I contract the virus and get sick, when those results come back, they’ll say I’m negative when in fact I am positive. How do you plan on making sure that no one contracts the virus throughout the semester after that one test before school starts? If someone does get sick, will they continue online? If they do, isn’t it pointless to come back to campus when we just end up online anyway? A school in Indiana was forced to close because a student tested positive for the coronavirus on the first day. A NYTimes article said, “Just hours into the first day of classes on Thursday, a call from the county health department notified Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana that a student who had walked the halls and sat in various classrooms had tested positive for the coronavirus.” Schools are using and will continue using strong cleaners to keep the school clean. Although this is good, the constant inhaling of strong cleaning products can potentially become toxic. School buildings don’t have the appropriate ventilation for those chemicals and it will be especially problematic for people with asthma and other health concerns.
In that same AFT interview, Dr. Fauci says “In many respects, unfortunately, though this may sound a little scary and harsh—I don't mean it to be that way—is that you're going to actually be part of the experiment of the learning curve of what we need to know.” This is ridiculous! These are lives that are being put on the line. We aren’t guinea pigs! Instead of wasting money equipping schools with new “protective” and “safe” equipment that may render useless if there is a chance we may end up back online anyway, allocate that money to provide resources like internet and laptops to students who need it while we stay online. Many schools including NJCU have done this, and we can continue doing so to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Yes, Wi-Fi can be an issue. With freezing and losing connection, it can be difficult. However, lectures/lessons can be recorded previously, and the class time can be used to review work or ask questions. Class times can be used as tutoring sessions and/or one on one time with the professors.
All we ask, is that you read this, read statistics, and ask the teachers/yourself what is the true safest way to start school in September. You know deep down that opening live will cause many issues, and to avoid them-just keep everything online. Ask the students, ask the professors, ask children, ask families what they think should be done. Trust me, you won’t be surprised with the answer, in fact, you’ll see the same answer pop up- Keep schools closed.