Ever since lockdown orders were first put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, we have all wondered when life will return to some semblance of normalcy. While the coronavirus is certainly still ongoing, many communities around the United States have gradually been “opening back up.” Some of the biggest “reopening” challenges come from students returning to schools.
Schools face many of the same difficulties that any indoor, public space has from reopening in the midst of a deadly pandemic. When you enact strict policies requiring masks upon entry, there’s only so much one can do to enforce it, even among adults. Some people wear their masks improperly (the mask goes over your nose, not just your mouth!), and others take the mask off entirely the moment they don’t think anyone is paying attention.
Ask any “essential worker,” and they could probably tell you a horror story about hostile customers stubbornly refusing to wear a mask at all, on principle.
When you’re in a school environment, enforcing mask-wearing alone becomes even more difficult. Kids are unpredictable, from chaotic toddlers to rebellious teenagers. It’s impossible to guarantee that all students in a given school will wear masks at all times, just like you can’t entirely stop kids from talking out of turn or texting in class. Similarly, it’s hard to keep them six feet apart when they went to whisper jokes to each other, hug, or even fight.
There’s also the issue of school crowding. Back in August, a Georgia high school student was suspended when she shared a picture of her school’s crowded hallway on social media in an effort to shed light on the severity of the problem. In an effort to avoid those risks, some schools have opted to “partially” reopen, having some children come to school physically while others take advantage of remote learning, and switching off on a day-to-day basis.
Safety measures such as these may benefit teachers and other faculty members more than students. While COVID-19 is certainly not harmless among young people, it presents a significantly greater risk to older people. In fact, some researchers have suggested that it may be healthier to send kids back to school than keeping them at home, where they risk physical inactivity, mental health problems, and in some cases, even child abuse.
Remote learning can also be difficult on parents and guardians. If their jobs don’t allow them to work from home, that presents a problem when they’re asked to return to work physically and still need someone to watch their children while they’re away. Plus, remote learning can often be more demanding for caretakers than when they’re children attended school physically. They may be asked to take a more active role in daily lessons, and providing the necessary electronic devices for their children isn’t always easy or affordable either.
There are no easy answers here. However long the pandemic continues, children will still need an education, and educators, from teachers to aides to superintendents, are still learning as they go. Luckily, it’s not all bad news.
The lessons schools have learned from the pandemic can still be applicable after the pandemic ends. For example, now that remote learning has been normalized, it can be taken advantage of anytime schools have to close for any reason, virus or no virus. That might not be happy news for kids looking forward to snow days, but teachers being able to maintain consistent schedules, and the ability to adapt in case of emergencies, will do a world of good for them and their students.
Plus, the fact that so many parents have been forced to take a more active role in their children’s education has fostered a greater appreciation for the hard work teachers do all year round, and can strengthen the bond between parents and teachers for a generation.
In any event, whether your child is remote learning, has returned to school, or some combination of the two, it’s more important than ever to monitor their health. Visit TouchCare Shield for more information about how you can keep your family, your employees, or yourself protected.