Numerous studies on reopening schools have been conducted, and almost all are drawing the conclusions that reopening schools has little to no effect on a given community’s positivity rates.
According to a study done by the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice, it is safe to reopen schools with a county positivity rate of 36-44 covid cases per day. According to their spreadsheet, Montgomery County has about 43 cases per day. This is half of the amount of cases from two months ago. The data is showing that Montgomery County’s positivity rate is on a negative trend and within range of safely reopening Upper Merion High School, strictly opposing any further extensions of virtual learning. Of course, all of this still must follow strict guidelines regarding sanitation and masks.
Brooke Nichols, an infectious disease modeler at the Boston University School of Public Health, says that “The more and more data that I see, the more comfortable I am that children are not, in fact, driving transmission, especially in school settings.” Dr. David Rubin, an infectious disease expert from the University of Pennsylvania, says that he thinks “there’s a pretty good base of evidence now that schools can open safely in the presence of strong safety plans, and even at higher levels of case incidence than we had suspected.” Countries like Britain and the Netherlands cite the logic that reopening schools and granting students a better educational opportunity than virtual learning is much more essential to a functional society than in-person dining or shopping.
Although the risk of covid within schools is still present, studies and experts claim that keeping children in online school shows much greater short-term mental health risks and long-term educational risks.
Numerous studies and experts conclude that reopening schools is important to do, however, opposition emerges largely from politicians and Teachers’ Unions.
A labor union is formed when all the workers in a given occupation appoint a leader to negotiate for more benefits for that occupation, and threaten to go on strike if the demands are not met. Public sector unions (such as Public Teachers Unions around America) have drawn considerable attention, as instead of drawing benefits from profits of companies like private sector unions, they draw benefits from taxpayers, communities, and children that teachers are supposed to teach.
Many Teachers’ Unions around the country have negotiated that they will not return to in-person schooling until all teachers are vaccinated, forcing themselves further up the priority list than most healthy elderly Americans. This, unions claim, is to reduce the positivity rates in a community. This logic has widely been accused of being flawed, as students can still transmit the virus anyways. Others claim that teachers are using this as a political tool to keep schools virtual, reducing teachers’ workloads at the cost of the students’ education.
Now, unions across the country still refuse to return to in-person learning even if teachers are vaccinated.
Parents around the country are left with a growing conflict between the vast consensus of the experts and the science or the Teachers’ Unions.