THE REOPENING OF SCHOOLS IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC: STUDENTS AND TEACHERS ARE NOT EXPENDABLE
MOBILE, AL — Students and teachers are putting their families and loved ones at risk by
returning back to the classroom despite the surging cases of COVID-19.
Students, faculty, and staff should not be forced into an environment where they have to spend
more time taking precautions instead of learning and teaching. This return, especially when the
numbers are surpassing 800 confirmed cases daily, is a tremendous threat to the health of those
that are encountering each other. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, in the
last two weeks of July, there was a 40 percent increase of cases among children, accounting for
97, 078 during that time frame.
Many school districts across the state are returning back to the traditional classroom for the
2020-2021 school year. The faculty and staff of these schools have undergone training and
prepared the school for what they consider a safe return. Even though measures of sanitizing,
social distancing, and temperature screenings are taking place, the threat of COVID-19 still
looms on buses, in halls, in restrooms, and in classrooms. This means that the health of many
students and teachers, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, are at stake.
On August 12, Baldwin County returned back to school, and Spanish Fort High School has nine
students that have been diagnosed or are suspected of contracting the virus. This information
was released to the parents via email by Principal Brian Williamson. Just last week Saraland
High School had five reported cases after their first day. Even though it is not evident that the
virus was contracted at the schools, this proves how easily COVID-19 can spread due to students
and teachers being in enclosed spaces.
There is a push to get students back in school, but the timing is not right. At this present moment
of uncertainty, students and teachers should be using alternate methods. There is no reason for
them to return to the classroom when online options are available. Mr. Chresal Threadgill,
Superintendent of the Mobile County Public School System took the well-being of the students,
faculty, and staff into consideration by making the decision to begin the school year remotely for
the 1st nine weeks. An assessment will be done to determine whether or not traditional school
will begin. If it does, there will be three options in place- traditional, remote, or virtual.
At the end of the day, some students and teachers may go home to people that are considered
high risk if they contract the virus. It is all about protecting the health of all people. We have to
do what is right to protect the students and teachers. They are not expendable.