In December, 2019 anew infectious disease was identified. This virus is a new member of the Corona Viruses. This new microorganism was unknown until the outbreak began in Wuhan, China. We have learned a lot about this “invisible enemy” since December, but we still have much to learn.
December, 2019 the world changed.
Suddenly our entire world was turned upside down. We were very much taken “by surprise”, not prepared for a World Health Crisis.
Since the onset of this pandemic, we have learned a lot, especially not to take things for granted. We have seen the worst and the best of the human psyche.
We will continue to “make it up as we go” because no one in our lifetime has experienced such a devastating illness; we have no idea yet how this virus is going to behave.
As of Mother’s Day, 2020, the Unites States had 1,309,541 cases and 78,795 deaths.
Abruptly, children all over the country were sent home from school. Preschools closed, colleges and universities were closed and/or went to remote online learning.
With school closures, schools have varied widely in what they have had to offer students. Schools have a legal, and, in my opinion, moral obligation to provide equitable learning opportunities. Often, Income – what zip code you are in – plays a major role in what is available depending on where you live. Prior to the pandemic, many public and some private schools did not have the necessary tools to teach students.
Students from impoverished, disenfranchised, low income homes and communities are unable to provide their students with Laptops, Wi-fi, notebooks and basic school supplies.
Poverty is always a risk factor when it concerns individual health and safety.
When the pandemic “shut down” our schools, parents teachers and school administrators, the entire country, was ill prepared for the immediate impact of this global phenomenon. We had to make quick arrangements for “home schooling”, child care before and after school, and many other basic services. Many decisions had to be made rapidly.
To date, schools have been closed since March or April, depending on where you live. Each state has “their own” ideas of what to do when a pandemic occurs. With no National Pandemic Infrastructure in place the school systems have struggled to provide an education while keeping everyone safe. Only time will tell how effective we have been.
This week, the CDC laid out it’s retailed, delayed road map for opening schools, child care centers, restaurants and various other institutions. (Washington Post, 5/19/2020).
Will schools reopen? Will Children return to classrooms?
The range of changes in the classroom will be multifaceted and perhaps difficult to maintain. Schools must have the following systems in place:
- Adequate supplies for proper hygiene: Soap, Hand Sanitizer, No-Touch Trash cans
- Social Distancing on buses, in classrooms and on the playground
- Staggered pick up and drop off times
- Daily Health Checks: Temperature Screenings
- Limited gatherings & extracurricular activities
- Closed Communal Spaces
This is a Strange New World. Maybe, when it is all said and done, we will be able to implement long term solutions. Solutions that will keep class size small, adequate educational material and opportunities for all students regardless of their social economic status. Remote learning, computers, digital notepads, Wi-fi and other types of learning enhancements may be the “new normal”.
Every child counts. Let’s make sure to take some lessons and learn from this “Silent Enemy”. We can do better.
Everyone deserves an opportunity to experience a quality education regardless of their Social Economic Status, race, creed, sexual orientation or Zip Code. Investing in education….it may save your life!
Here are some great resources to check out as we begin to think about reopening schools:
Washington Post Article on CDC Guidelines
Prescott Unified School District Responds to Corona Virus
CDC School Decision Tool
Covid-19 plays Havoc on High School Graduations
Patricia Beitel RN, MSN, WHNP (retired)
I am a product of my education; without it; I would have been a welfare statistic. As a young single, naïve teenager I “got pregnant” and became a mother at the grand old age of 19. I believe my “rough” start gave me a skill set that has allowed me to engage and advocate for the marginalized, disenfranchised, underserved individuals. My focus has been on community advocacy and public health. Education is an equalizer, a valuable commodity that no one can take away from you; use your resources and support public education.