A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed data supporting the argument that it is safe for children to return to school amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes after months of debate regarding whether or not children were susceptible to the spread of the disease and calls from the public for allowing children back into the classroom once and for all.
The study examined 17 rural Wisconsin schools, reporting that with widespread mask-wearing and other protective measures, “COVID-19 incidence among students and staff members was lower than in the county overall,” implying that with the proper protocols, students should be able to return to brick and mortar schools. For the fall 2020 term, 13,597 of 14,944 school districts had reopening plans, with 51% still using a hybrid in-person and online model, according to another study.
Mental health has been a forefront issue during the pandemic, with some researchers declaring a complementary “global psychological pandemic” of mental health instability and suicide. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and perhaps the face of the coronavirus response in the U.S., has also encouraged that schools open back up, granted they abide by CDC guidelines.
As vaccination efforts continue, some teachers across the country are still not comfortable returning to the classroom, with unions in Virginia and California arguing that vaccination does not equate to workplace safety. According to Dr. K.C. Rondello, an epidemiologist and clinical associate professor Adelphi University College of Nursing and Public Health, reopening processes should be “very particular to each community” depending on each area’s infection rates.
Rondello addressed the mass panic that ensued during the early days of the pandemic, explaining that there was very little information on COVID-19 at the time. Since then, data has shown that “the vast majority of those fears” have been unfounded. Should schools follow CDC guidelines of social distancing, mask-wearing and frequent handwashing, data shows that there should be no major risks associated with bringing children back to in-person schooling.