It’s that time of year again where students are headed back to school to start or continue their education. For the most part, the 2020-2021 school year was held remotely due to the ongoing pandemic and transitioning from a classroom setting to online learning was an adjustment that became an obstacle for many students, especially when broadband Internet is not financially accessible to students of all household incomes.
Students and teachers alike had to navigate their newfound learning environment together, which included challenges with technology, teacher-student one-on-one ease of access, and working from home. For this upcoming school year, it seems like many schools have settled on either a hybrid learning environment or being entirely in-person.
Now, I’m all for learning in an environment that is best conducive to learning for students, but I am also concerned about the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff when it comes to COVID guidelines (or lack thereof) in place. With the Delta variant spread out across the United States, the CDC has backtracked to recommend mask wearing indoors, even for those who are vaccinated. Another concern is that vaccinations are not required for people to go back to the majority of schools.
Why is that? Schools already require vaccinations for the chickenpox, diphtheria, influenza, hepatitis, etc., so why not require the COVID vaccine when the world has witnessed one of the deadliest pandemics in its history? This past year, the United States has poorly managed the spread of the coronavirus, and with restrictions flipping back and forth, people are getting antsy. The mindset and urge to “return to normalcy” is negatively affecting educational institutions and placing both teachers and students in a hostile learning environment that risks their lives.
It is not smart and it is not fair for educators across the nation. School districts and school boards should rethink their plans for the year to best protect the health of their students, faculty, and staff all around. There will be a time for everyone to gather safely in classrooms, but now is not that time.