Well-reputed organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics are calling for schools to open up come the start of the 2020-21 school year, as has the President, with several polls suggesting many parents are on board, too.
Opposition is strong, though, as, according to Johns Hopkins University, nearly 3 million Americans have now been infected with more than 130,000 deaths reported,
Take Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association; she calls the Trump administration’s insistence that schools reopen, “Appallingly reckless.”
As she put it, “Americans should have no doubt that teachers want to be in their classrooms with their students on the first day of the coming school year, but we won’t acquiesce to a vision of learning that endangers the lives of everyone who walks into a schoolhouse, as well as their families and communities.”
In a similar vein, Fairfax County teachers’ association president Kimberly Adams says, “There’s a sentiment that teachers should be ready to jump in and give it all up for our families and students like we always do, but [this time] we have own families, so it’s a little different. [People say] health care workers did it, why can’t teachers? We didn’t sign up to be health care workers.”
Plus, 90% of teachers in a recent USAToday/Ipsos poll believe just keeping students six feet apart is a stretch, and now the CDC does NOT recommend testing all staff and students, just those with symptoms or who have been exposed.
Other problems include:
- A worsening shortage of school bus drivers given many are retirees.
- The worsening shortage of teachers (20% are unlikely to return) and substitute teachers.
- The countless windowless classrooms in notoriously poorly ventilated, already mold-laden schools.
- Maintaining social distancing in already crowded classrooms.
- The 475,000, 61+ K-12 teachers and those with pre-existing conditions.
- Exposure and use of sick days.
- Time allotted for cleaning and sanitizing between classes and after school.
- Too few hand washing stations.
- Effectively teaching behind a mask.
- The 25% of schools without a nurse and the 35% with part-time nurses.
- The requested $200 billion (on top of March’s $13 billion to K-12 schools) and just $58 billion now in congressional debate.
No wonder a July 8 National Association of Secondary School Principals survey of 1,450 administrators found that, if schools reopen:
- 38% are “unsure/not confident” they can keep their students and staff healthy and safe.
- 9% are “not confident” they can do so.
- 2% are “confident” the can.
- 15% are “not confident at all.”
- 4% are “extremely confident” they can.
- 8% are “somewhat confident.”
On top of that, a recent EdWeek Research Center found that 62% of surveyed of teachers, principals, and district leaders are “somewhat” or “very concerned” about in-person teaching.
Meanwhile, even as districts forge ahead with reopening plans, the CDC revamps its guidelines and top doc Anthony Fauci says, “There’s no easy answer.”
And now this just in from World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan: “…There are enough reported instances of its [coronavirus] spread in closed spaces to warrant proper attention and extra precautions.”
No wonder Sarasota, Florida high school teacher Mary DeArment says, “I will be returning to school in August. May invest in a hazmat suit.”
Welcome to limbo.