THERE IS NO RISK-FREE DECISION ABOUT SCHOOL REOPENING: We must balance the risks of children contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 with counteracting risks of children falling academically behind and being deprived of social relationships from in-school learning. Decisions as to whether students should return to school in person must be tailored to fit each specific community, school, and even grade within the school. This week the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a report focused on younger children. Their advice? Open schools for children in kindergarten through fifth grade with safety measures in place.
Science tells us that social relationships with friends and teachers are essential for social and academic learning. Children learn, love, and thrive best when interacting with other adults and children. Put simply, social relationships play a critical role in learning and child development.
On the other hand, with respect to public health, there is much that we do not know. Data are still evolving and are sometimes contradictory. So, what is a parent to do? What is a teacher to do? What policies should guide decisions about whether, and if so, how to open school? This is the balancing act. As a parent, you have the opportunity and responsibility to make the final decision that is best for your child.
In two pieces, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that for young children, returning to school with the right provisions in place would be optimal. In an amendment to their post, they write: “Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue reopening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers, and staff.”
There is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for reopening, and significant resources are required. Local conditions are paramount. These include the prevalence of the virus in the community, the health risks for staff, adequate resources provided to disinfect classrooms, students and employees screened for symptoms, and academic spaces reconfigured.
The bottom line is that the answer is just not as black and white as many in the media lead us to believe. Decisions about whether and how to reopen schools require a delicate balance of dynamic factors. We must make informed decisions about how to keep children safe while also feeding them the psychological nutrients to develop in a healthy way.
This task will require self-discipline and cooperation from everyone. Families will need to survey student wellness EACH DAY before sending to school. If there is any doubt about your child’s health…..keep them home. We will check EVERYONE’s temperature before entering the building. It will take a team effort with our ultimate goal being the SAFETY and HEALTH of EVERYONE.
We want to return to normal, BUT more importantly we want EVERYONE (students and staff) to be safe. My PRAYER is that the spread of COVID-19 will DIMINISH significantly before August 12.
Grace and Peace,
Head of School
Angleton Christian School