Will Students Feel Safe if Schools are Reopened in the Fall?

Story by Ava Schrage, Staff Writer/ Editor

Schools have been one of the largest institutions affected by COVID-19 as evidenced by the overwhelming majority of states closing down all public schools, leaving many students to deal with distance learning, missing out on important school events, sports, and more, while being constantly reminded that the future of schools remains to be seen. Although governor Ned Lamont recently declared that the remainder of the school year will continue to be taught online, there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding whether or not schools will be open by the time the next school year begins in the fall.

In order for a decision to be made, we must see a positive outcome following the two upcoming waves for re-opening the state. With this, many new ideas are up in the air of how schools can adopt strict safety precautions while still returning to “relative normalcy.” There’s a possibility that if we end up returning to school in September, wearing masks full-time will be required for all students and staff members, and regular testing for COVID-19 will be implemented. If there were to not be enough tests, this would be switched to taking everyone’s temperature every morning before walking into the building.

However, other unconventional adjustments to the school day are being considered, such as cutting the size of classes in half, having students eat lunch in their classrooms, spacing out desks, making hallways one-way, and even going to school three days a week while having the other two remain online. But with this, keep in mind there could also be no re-opening or the re-opening could be completely standard. At this point in time there’s no telling.

Despite these potential measures that could go into place in the case of a re-opening, many students, staff, and families are still hesitant about returning. In a poll that surveyed 130 local students, 45% answered that they would not feel completely safe returning in the fall.

The following statements were made by SHS students on either side:

“I don’t think I’ll be able to feel completely safe until there’s a vaccine.” -Sandy McGugan (sophomore)

“I’d be nervous to go back, but it has to happen at some point, and I don’t think I’ll be any less nervous if it’s further into the future than the fall.” -Tori LoPresto (junior)

“Schools already aren’t very clean, and they won’t be able to be cleaned as well as they should be to allow students to safely return.” -Unnamed student

“Honestly I don’t think I would be too worried since we’re the age group that’s the least affected and we’re in a very small area that hasn’t experienced too many documented exposures.” -Aidan Languedoc (junior)

“There are people in my family who are high risk, so I’m not comfortable going out of fear that I’ll expose them. Plus, unless we have treatment, it isn’t safe. Historically, rushing to normalcy only exacerbates diseases.” -Sara Burger (freshman)

“It really just depends, to be honest. If the school doesn’t take extra precautions I’ll be hesitant, but if some things are adjusted I’ll feel ready to go back.” -Erich Phelps (junior)

“Our lives have already been messed up enough by this, we deserve to go back and have a normal school year. I want to see my friends and I need a break from all of this madness.” -Unnamed student

“Nothing can take me down.” -Cole Wilbur (senior)

Overall, it can be generally agreed that these next few months will be crucial to see where the future of schools will go.