School re-openings: possible solutions

September 8, 2020 4:29 PM

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Empty schools desks lined in rows in a dark classroom. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Empty schools desks lined in rows in a dark classroom. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

To Boston Public Schools, And Mayor Marty Walsh,

Before schools shut down and students were forced to go home, I started to get sick. It started with my throat feeling weird, and it began to ache and dry out. The pain increased over the days and I was “ok” with it because I was being told that the virus had not infiltrated my school. I was washing and sanitizing my hands. I was fine, right? Even with my sore throat, my labored breathing and my urge to cough every ten minutes, I was fine! And when we began to quarantine, I thought all was well. Even with the stacking symptoms. I treated myself to tea, and cough drops, and hot showers. But it got worse, much worse. One day, I couldn't taste the food I was eating, and within a few hours, I couldn't smell the perfume I squirted up my nose. It got worse. And that was all when the virus wasn't even something to worry about. So think about the amount of kids who will experience these symptoms when we force them into school. It is unethical and dangerous to send kids back to school during the influx of COVID-19. It jeopardizes the safety and the environment of students, parents, and teachers.

I understand that there are business components to the schooling industry and I am sure there are parts of the school system that we do not understand as students. But take into consideration, that a lot of the people making executive decisions for our schools do not have children our age in school. And if they do, they are not in the Boston Public School system, they attend private schools that can provide safety and the precise spacing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Boston Public Schools on the other hand do not have this luxury. Think of a school Like Boston Latin Academy. Do you really think students will not spread covid? You think that students with compromised immune systems wont die from this? I am of normal health and I still felt my breath dwindle to short gasps. You cannot think that forcing students back into school is wise, if I can get sick, so can the teachers that work tirelessly for you. No, sending students back to school is unacceptable, it is actually inhumane. 

If we are in the business of compromise, I have a few ideas that can ensure both the return of the students, and the guarantee that we won't die because we followed the rules. 

I'm sure we have all thought about a solution for schools. I mean the most obvious solution is to have our students engage in virtual learning. But I suppose we have to look at this from a business point of view. So, if we want to avoid an influx in cases amongst students, specifically students in marginalized communities, we have to figure out a hybrid kind of situation. Meaning that, yes we can have students in school, but only for a short amount of time. So we would have to have one group of students on the first half of the week, and the second half on the other side of the week. Smaller classrooms mean that the six feet requirement amongst students would be nearly impossible. So, we have to capitalize on the classroom sizes that we do have. 

Some schools are overcrowded and this would do nothing if we want to have smaller groups of students. So, I would propose that some students actually stay home and engage with remote learning. 

It all sounds complicated. But it could work. Maybe if we worked in cycles. 

For quarter one of the school year, the freshman would be the ones who engage in remote learning 100% of the time and the sophomores, juniors and seniors would do the hybrid learning system.

Each grade cohort would be able to get their own quarter of engaging in a hybrid system while others are fully remote. 
The hybrid model would look like a grade being broken up into four groups. The first two are at school on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The second group is there on Thursday and Friday. The grade above them, does the same cycle while the existing group stays home for remote learning for that quarter. Much like schools in Lowell, they are far more interested in remote learning. But this could be a helpful compromise.

This is an unprecedented time for all of us and we have time to make decisions that can put us on the right side of history. But sending students off to school during a global pandemic is not the right side of history. It is a colossal mistake and incredibly selfish and above all things, it is imprudent. We have a chance to continue to lessen the cases that have spiked in Boston. The complete opposite of this is pursuing the course of action that is already being invested in.  

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