A Project for Better Journalism chapter

When is the Right Time to Return to School?

Although going back to school sounds like an exhilarating idea, it could be the cause of yet another massive Covid-19 outbreak. For example, students could forgo the mask law, causing the virus to spread within our schools. This has already been an issue with some schools in Georgia.  

To begin with, the American Academy of Pediatrics states, “In order to stay safe in schools, there are a number of steps schools should take to help prevent the spread of Covid. They include: physically distancing, cloth face coverings and hand hygiene, classroom changes, testing and temperature checks, exposure, symptoms at school, and cleaning and disinfecting.” As of now Arizona is one of the largest hot spots for the Coronavirus in the United States. Although these procedures may keep us “safe”, there is no guarantee that they will completely eliminate the chances of getting Covid-19 from within our schools. 

When schools decide to go back to in-person learning, plenty will change. For instance , staff will have to check students for symptoms and provide temperature checks daily. Classes will also be smaller because the desks will have to be six feet apart. In addition, schools are planning on using a hybrid system, meaning students will be in the classroom some days and online other days. 

As for other countries, most of the schools are back in session with a few minor tweaks. Their class sizes have been reduced, they have enforced physical distancing, and cohorting. In various places outside of the United States, masks are no longer required, asif the Coronavirus has just gone away. On the other hand, computer simulations from Europe have suggested that schools reopening may further increase the spread in communities where transmission is already high. Moreover, the majority of people have wondered what would happen if one student tested positive for Covid? Well the answer to that question is, a single case of Covid-19 would not warrant closing the entire school. For most parents, it is pretty worrisome knowing how fast the virus spreads. 

Kathy Hoffman, the Superintendent of Public Instruction states, “ I want students back in our classrooms because that’s the best place for learning and growing. However, we cannot ask schools to make decisions that will impact the teachers’ and students’ health and safety without first providing them with necessary public health and safety without first providing them with the necessary public health data funding to make safe decisions.”   


Going back to school on campus could be extremely dangerous because all it takes is one infected person to spread the virus like a wildfire. For example, last month a school in Georgia reopened and a photo of their crowded hallway was leaked on social media. Students were not wearing masks and most definitely were not social distancing. This led to a huge outbreak of Covid-19 and Georgia is now one of the top 5 U.S. states with the largest number of cases. This is important because it shows how easy it is for the virus to spread. It also shows that we should not trust teens to prevent the spread because half of them think it cannot affect them.

Brian Otott, Paulding County School superintendent states, “Wearing a face mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to tower them. What we do is strongly encourage all students and staff to wear masks.” In response to that, Ravian Kullar, Infectious Disease Specialist states, “ Mind boggling. You get detention for not tucking in your shirt, it is possible to impose certain rules.” If one state can enforce a mask law, so can all other 49 states do so. 

Arizona highschoolers were asked to share their opinion on going back to school, and this is what they had to say. Caden Lockwood, junior at Sunnyslope High School, claimed “I would love to be back in a school environment; however, I don’t believe that it is safe. CDC guidelines have to be in place, the school community will not be the same.” Another student, Angelina Howard, also a junior at Sunnyslope highschool, said “I don’t think in person school is a good idea because most teens would not take the CDC guidelines seriously. Meaning they would not wear their masks or social distance. Personally I would not feel safe around those students because it would be so easy for me to get the virus,and spread it to my family.” 

As for college students, a large portion of schools have students on campus but are 100% online. Other schools are allowing a portion of students on campus, bringing back freshmen in the fall and seniors in the spring. 

In conclusion, going back to in-person school does have some learning benefits like one-on-one teaching and socializing. For the time being though, the most efficient way to stay safe while learning would be to continue with online school. This may not be a forever thing, but it will definitely slow down the spread of Covid.