Debra J. Saunders is right to say, “there’s an antidote to this problem. Schools.”
The specific problem she is referring to in the Public school closures may be a big Mistake is that caused by school closures. Namely, some children lack supervision and others are simply not participating in online alternatives. Just last month the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that 21 percent of students enrolled in Clark County schools had no contact with the district after schools were shutdown. We cannot expect students to come back with the knowledge required to be successfully in today’s world.
Even before the coronavirus mayhem arrived at our front door, the U.S. ranked 27th of all developed nations in overall education proficiency of our students—just behind the Slovak Republic. There is no telling how much further behind our children will be when this is all said and done.
Obviously we’ll have to be smart about how we open schools. Families with underlying health concerns could keep their children home. In Washington State some counties are ready to reopen–start by letting students go back to school in these districts. Testing for symptoms could be set up at the entrances of schools. Cleaning teams could disinfect regularly during the day and after students have left. Schedules could be designed to limit the risk of spreading the virus.
Saunders acknowledges some students may need summer school. Taking that a step further, we believe school should be year round. Corinth, a school district in Mississippi has made this a reality. Corinth now operates on a revised calendar that involves four 9-week blocks, with three 3-week sessions for students who are behind or who desire additional learning (extending their year to 210 days). The Christmas break remains and a shortened summer vacation is still available.
It is time we work on reopening schools. Our nation depends on it.