School’s starting soon. Why are parents and kids still in limbo?

The Christian Science Monitor


John Bailey, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and co-author of “A blueprint for back to school,” says some patience is due. “I think opening a bar or restaurant is much simpler than opening a complex operation like a school,” he says. The plans must reflect the fast-changing nature of the pandemic, which favors a wait-and-see approach, and address concerns of teachers and school staff fearful for their health.

Politics has only complicated the path forward. “We just saw the tweets from Trump and [Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos saying reopen schools fully in the fall. To me, that is politicizing something that shouldn’t be politicized – but I do think that outside of those politicized takes there’s this wishful thinking that we can return to normal in the fall,” says Dr. Cohodes. “We lost our window for that, if it ever existed. When we think about different options moving forward, I think what we have to remember is that we’re not comparing it to the school we knew, but a very changed experience.” 

Plus, those who need school to open the most might be the least inclined to send their children back. Much attention has been paid to inequalities faced by minorities during the pandemic, from being overrepresented in frontline work, victim tallies, and among children in poor education outcomes. Yet Carycruz Bueno, a postdoctoral research associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, says minority students might find a school setting too risky. For example, Black and Latino families are more likely to have intergenerational households with grandparents living under the same roof, she says, so those families will need to make collective decisions about whether a child returning to school in person is good for the health of the home.


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