Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, schools and colleges are determining whether students will return to campus or continue remote learning. This begs the question, is it safe to return to campus?
Coronavirus data shows that most school-age children have a lower risk of contracting the virus than adults. Although this may be true, communities still are taking extensive measures to ensure that students will be safe. The Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, CT, is currently evaluating the situation in regards to facilities, the spread of the virus, and mostly the ability to learn.
“The combination of daily monitoring of symptoms, social distancing and strict mask-wearing policies, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting will mitigate the risk of broad spread among the community” stated Head of School Thomas Dillow.
KO will be utilizing the Ascend application which will help collect data for the community. Each morning each community member will submit a response that will help determine if they are healthy to return to campus. This app is one of many measures KO will be using to ensure the community members’ safety. The facilities will also be ventilated and outdoor classes may be used to keep the flow of air consistent.
In application, these measures may seem very successful but there is still no definitive answer on whether returning to school is safe. However, there is a clear advantage to learning in person rather than online.
In addition to the school closings in the spring, extending virtual schooling poses a threat to the mental health of a developing child.
The CDC has stated multiple disadvantages to remote learning, including students engaging in unhealthy behaviors in connection with the lack of a safe environment. Junior Marrich Somridhivej believes that he learns best when alongside his peers which motivates him to achieve more in his classes.
Extended closures also lead to educational disadvantages including severe learning loss. Schools provide academic support on a short term and long term basis. The decrease in this skill will leave gaps in a student’s educational future.
Students also lose out on the physical education factor during online learning. Many students may have a school PE class as their only source of physical activity. Decreased physical activity can lead to chronic health conditions.
KO has a three-sport requirement that will be modified to fit the coronavirus situation. There will be no games or matches, but to give students the opportunity of physical activity, KO is allowing one hour of sports practices to all students. Junior David Shi says he enjoys sports and this is a great way to incorporate them during this situation.
Again, there is not a yes or no answer to the question, are schools safe to return, but there are clear advantages and disadvantages to in-person and remote learning. KO is one of the many schools working hard to ensure their community members are safe and ready to learn.