How we should go back to school safely

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Graphic by Leah Braden

Kavita O’Malley

So, online school. It sucks. The classes are long, the teachers are boring, and your airpods keep dying. But is going back to school really a safer alternative? 

Making a plan to go back to school is going to be hard. Plus, there’s only so much administrators can do to enforce the rules. But the idea that you might never get to sit in a classroom with your classmates again, make new friends, or meet your new teachers one on one is kind of sad. So if there were a way to make it safe, we should go back to school for at least one day a week. 

As I said, returning to school safely will be a challenge, but there are ways to make it as safe as possible. Here are a few suggestions for what should happen. 

  • Enforcing the use of masks with strong consequences for not those using them.
  • Taking temperatures before entering the building to try keeping symptomatic people out of the building. 
  • If there is an accessible way to test, having weekly COVID-19 tests for all students who are planning to come to school. 
  • Taking surveys to see how many families would actually like to return to school, using those numbers to create A days and B days so there aren’t too many students in the building at once. 
  • Spacing out desks in the classrooms and using larger spaces like the atrium or gyms to hold classes. 
  • Having a weekly deep sanitation of the school to limit the amount of germs spread. This could include teachers wiping down desks and chairs after each class. 
  • Leaving the windows open in classrooms and purchasing large fans to improve the air filtration in the building. 

These are just some ideas of simple ways to make it possible for us to return to school. I think that starting off with one day a week would be a good way to test whether it is actually safe. But assuming that it was, we could move to two days a week and eventually maybe even go to the building on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. 

Having at least some learning in the classroom would be highly beneficial for student engagement in classes. It would help students form a connection with their teachers and classmates that could help them stay more interested in their learning. When students don’t have relationships with the people in their classes or with their teachers, they are less likely to stay attentive during class. It’s really hard for teachers to get to know their students on the online platform. Having in-person interactions with their students would help them better get to know how their kids learn and how they can make the online classes better for their students. Basically, if done right, going back to school would be an excellent option.