Sam Reinke / Equinox Staff

As we all know too well, COVID-19 has caused countless schools at all levels to close down this spring but as we learn how to combat the virus more, schools have reopened. With colleges, such as Keene State, the idea is to create a bubble to combat the virus, but at elementary, middle and high schools it gets much more complicated.

These schools cannot create a bubble due to students going back home after school and, therefore, potentially exposing other students to anything anybody in their house may have come across. This puts extra pressure on the administration of these school boards to have proper safety precautions in place in order to truly keep these students safe.

Unlike some, I think that in-person school for elementary, middle and high schools is very much something that should be attempted. I do, however, believe that it should only be done if the school is being responsible with guidelines that will absolutely keep as many of these students safe as possible. This means that masks have to be part of the equation along with proper sanitation practices for classrooms, cafeterias, bathrooms, etc.

Coincidentally enough, my home town of Windham, New Hampshire had the high school’s opening delayed due to an outbreak. This made me very concerned but the school district then adapted and made that whole week fully remote. I think reading the writing on the walls in these situations is important and that’s exactly what they did. If these schools are going to be open, they need to be willing to make the tough decisions to keep the students safe.

Having come into this topic a little ignorant, I decided to ask my 14 and 15-year-old siblings some of the protocols that their schools are using. First of all, masks are required, which I expected but, unfortunately, you still can’t be too sure these days. They also told me that they have a hybrid model where they cycle between coming in two days one week and three days the next.

With this being very similar to what all schools are doing, I certainly can’t knock it and I think that it’s an effective way to make sure there aren’t too many students in the school. I was also told that during their lunches they only have half the amount of people they typically have with everybody at their own desk socially distanced as well. I also think that this is a good plan and if any school is going to be open, they absolutely need to have something like this for lunch instead of just having all the students still on top of each other.

Overall, I think that my hometown is handling protocols well and any schools that are doing in-person should be thoughtful in their plans and consider many scenarios in the same way. Coming up with effective safety protocols certainly isn’t easy and requires some creativity but all of these elementary, middle and high schools owe it to all of these students to try.

With so much of our youth just glued to devices these days, the interactions they get from school are crucial to their development. In addition, for the high schoolers who are slightly more developed already, the potential lack of interactions from being able to socialize with people their age could be crushing for their mental health. I understand that it can truly be impossible to have schools open in some areas, but when other areas just don’t want to put in the effort by pushing the panic button, they are robbing the students.

Disclaimer: This article is the sole opinion of Cristian Valentin.

Cristian Valentin can be contacted at:

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