Updated: Dec 31, 2020
As the beginning of the academic school year comes closer, many schools decided to resume summer classes and open for students to attend during the fall semester. As large numbers of students began crowding into small school buildings without mandated masks on, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to spread faster than ever. School districts, including the Georgia School District, Corinth School District, and Greater Clark County Schools, began to open up for the summer, and the results of school reopenings were mass quarantines, consequently ensuring a switch back to virtual and online classes. These school reopenings clearly provided evidence that it may be too soon to allow for mass gatherings, including classes.
In Georgia, at a school district near Atlanta, approximately 930 students, teachers, and staff were mandated to self-quarantine after multiple people from the school building were tested positive for COVID-19 virus, forcing the schools to have, once again, another temporary closing. Since the governor did not require masks, district superintendents were able to make the executive decision for their individual school districts; for example, the Cherokee schools’ students were not forced to wear masks in the school building. This eventually led to 59 positive COVID-19 tests among students and staff of the Cherokee County School District since the reopening in the first week of August.
Similarly, the Corinth School District in Mississippi experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases this month. This district was the first in Mississippi to return to the school building for classes, as well as a district that had 7 more cases before the second week of school was over. Many students and staff were told to quarantine for 14 days if they were suspected of having exposure to the positively-tested person. These students or teachers had to continue working virtually to be able to be marked present for the day or class. Eventually, the governor delayed the opening of other larger schools by about 2 weeks.
Lastly, Greater Clark County schools have also seen new COVID-19 cases that lined up with timing of their reopening of their schools. Although the COVID-19 cases increased during school, Yazel believed that transmission was happening outside and therefore students should be able to still attend school in their school buildings rather than virtually. He states that the schools are doing all they can to ensure that students are safe from the virus while in classes or in the school building, and continues to say that the school is assisting the health department in contact tracing so therefore there is nothing to worry about.
Thomas Dobbs, the Mississippi health officer, stated “There’s just no plausible scenario where it’s just not going to be bad,” and showed his strong belief that delaying school reopenings is for the better. However, President Trump demanded that students attend school in fall by stating that he will withhold federal funding from schools that continue with only virtual classes. Currently, the U.S. leads all other countries in confirmed cases and deaths. Day by day, the numbers increase as students are forced to go back to school during this global pandemic, without many mandated safety protocols.
Min Hur is a staff writer for The Incandescent Review and a high school writer from Long Island, New York. Follow her on Instagram @_min_e_ah.