Editorial: Questions Remain About Sending Kids To School

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It looks like some hybrid of in-person and remote schooling is going to be the best option in September.

  Remote schooling is not ideal, but nothing about this pandemic is.

  My motto has always been “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

  We have to expect the worst when it comes to this virus. Sure, Ocean County has far fewer cases than other counties. That makes me feel a lot better. We’re going to get an uptick in September. Any teacher or parent will tell you that September is when all the bugs go around.

  I don’t blame the schools for whatever they decide. They are damned if they open, damned if they stay closed – at least in the eyes of the residents. They’re not going to please everyone – nor should they.

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  School officials are in the unfortunate position to clean up this mess that they didn’t create. Just like all of society’s ills, people look to the schools and yell “Well, what are you going to do about it!?”

  If people would just wear masks, like the CDC says, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  The state is issuing guidelines, and I believe that the school officials locally will do their best. There are a lot of problems, however, that might not be easily solved, or won’t fall into the guidelines:

  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 8.4 percent of children have asthma. The CDC says this places them in the higher risk category. How can you protect them?

  What do you do about the kids who are asymptomatic and come to school?

  What do you do when a parent gives their kid Tylenol to reduce the fever and then sends the kid to school?

  What do you do when you can’t get a hold of a parent and their kid is showing symptoms or has a fever?

  When a child has a fever, do you put them in a quarantine area? And if they are put in the same room as kids who have a fever, but do not have COVID, are you then spreading it? How do you know?

  Are schools or staff liable if a child gets sick? Can parents sue the school/staff? Does this matter if it’s a private or public school?

  How can you social distance on a bus?

  Does the bus driver have to take a kid’s temperature before letting them on a bus? How much will that slow down the transportation schedule? If a kid has a temperature at the bus stop, what power does the driver or aide have to send that kid home? What if there are no parents or guardians at home or the kid doesn’t have a key?

  Let’s say one kid on a bus later tests positive for COVID. Kids on a bus always go to several different classrooms. Does that mean every classroom is then potentially infected?

  How can we have kids social distance during a fire drill or an active shooter drill? (The fact that we have active shooter drills and a pandemic is depressing.)

  If a therapist helps one child, and then works with another, then they have potentially spread it. Do they have to sanitize materials in between? Or if they have individual items for each kid, where are they storing that equipment?

  How long do they have to be temperature-free before they come back to school?

  If one child has it, does everyone in that classroom have to quarantine? Do they have to stay home? If the teacher then brings it home to their family, does that then spread the virus from their kids?

  If the teachers or other staff get sick, or they have to quarantine, do they have to use up sick time?

  Where are you going to get substitute teachers? I seriously doubt anyone will be signing up for that job now.

  Where are the districts going to get the money to pay for any improvements to the building to keep people safe? Or extra staff?

  How can you get pre-K kids to understand any of these rules?

  How can you get special needs kids to understand any of these rules?

  How can you communicate these issues to children who don’t have English as their primary language?

  How can you keep very young children six feet apart?

  How do you toilet a special needs kid? How do you put a mask on an autistic child who won’t tolerate it? If a special needs child is having a behavioral issue, and is hurting themselves or others, how can you restrain them?

  We cancel school when there’s two inches of snow in fear of the worst thing that can happen. Maybe keeping at least half of the students home is a smart idea.

Chris Lundy
News Editor