By Gabby G
For many students, their academic year came to a screeching halt mid-March as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the United States. Many educational institutions opted to switch to online instructions in attempts to provide their students the opportunity to finish.
With stay-at-home orders and protocols varying from state to state, many are unsure whether schools should be reopened in the fall.
President Donald Trump however is adamant about reopening schools in the coming fall. “Virtual learning has proven to be TERRIBLE compared to In School, or On Campus, Learning. Not even close! Schools must be open in the Fall,” Trump said in a tweet posted on Friday. “If not open, why would the Federal Government give funding? It won’t!!!”
Trump’s threat to cut federal funding has left many panicking. From concerned parents to agitated administrators, even pediatricians. “Withholding funding from schools that do not open in person fulltime would be a misguided approach, putting already financially strapped schools in an impossible position that would threaten the health of students and teachers,” the pediatricians wrote in a statement with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AASA, The School Superintendents Association.
Teachers are terrified and are concerned with sanitary procedures. According to the Public School Review, the average student-teacher ratio is 16:1. “It doesn’t seem like they’re going to [be able to] protect everyone because of how this disease spreads and how schools function,” said the President of the Fairfax Education Association in Virginia, Kimberly Adams.
The idea of returning to school- especially with mere weeks left of summer vacation–has many teachers rightfully worried. “What does classroom life look like post-quarantine? Are we living a delusion that we’re going back to a classroom that’s a normal room?” said fifth-grade math and science teacher Abigail Lund of Cincinnati.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced Monday that foreign students may need to leave the U.S. if their fall classes are online.
This policy has left international students concerned about their future as they face the threat of deportation. “This policy is a message to both Americans and international students,” said a biochemistry student from Ireland studying at the State University of New York, who chose to remain anonymous. “The message to Americans is, ‘We’re going to pretend the virus does not exist.’ The message to us is, ‘Get out.’”
“We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it.” the AAP, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the School Superintendents Association said in a joint statement.