Letter: Schools face impossible choices | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Schools face impossible choices

COVID-19 is loaded with unpleasant surprises and choices, and nowhere is that truer than within the wider schools community, including teachers, students, parents, administrators, board members and taxpayers.

To have students taught in person, or via the internet, that is the question facing every family, every teacher and school.

It is not a simple question to answer.

Let’s take in-person teaching, where students physically go back to school, as do teachers. This comes closest to a “normal” school year, but with COVID-19 in the mix, this upcoming school year will be anything but normal. School districts in Routt County will require masks for everyone, personal protective equipment for teachers, staggered schedules to minimize student to student contacts, cancelled or postponed sports and special events, improved ventilation and control of air flows, etc.

Will it be enough? No one knows. Certainly not Trump, who is desperate to get schools going so parents can go back to work and his re-election odds rise from catastrophic to merely dismal.

Parents might rejoice going back to work, but at what risk of catching the virus, at work or brought home by the kids?

Teachers might relish seeing students again, but at the risk of continual exposure to whatever students might bring from home or pick up from each other. Is it fair to ask older teachers with their own health issues to risk their lives by going back to the classroom?

Students might love to see their friends again, but do they have the maturity and self-discipline to wear masks all day, maintain social distancing and wash hands frequently? Many so-called adults cannot seem to do that, so what can we expect of kindergarteners?

The alternative to all of the above is online learning with the kids at home. That usually implies a parent staying home to keep the kids on task, but at the cost of lost income, health care and the growing risk of eviction from rentals or family homes for late and/or nonpayment of rent or mortgages.

These are difficult, even impossible choices, but for now, the stay-at-home, online education option seems safest until such time we have universal testing, robust contact tracing and an effective vaccine.

Anything else is a giant game of Russian roulette.

Brodie Farquhar

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