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EDITORIAL: Full-time, in-person school must be an option

EDITORIAL: Full-time, in-person school must be an option

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When Sept. 3 comes, it will have been 5½ months since students were last in school.

For many of them, it will have been 5½ months since they did any school work. For some students, it’s because teachers were not prepared to transfer to new online teaching technology. For others, it’s because their parents were not able to teach them at home — possibly because of work or myriad other reasons. Others have done work, but it doesn’t compare to what they would have learned in school.

Students are already behind where they are supposed to be. When September comes, schools need to physically reopen and welcome students back in.

If they don’t, our students will be even further behind. Students are already behind about a semester. Push full school reopening to December and kids are pushed back practically a year.

And the achievement gap will only worsen.

If schools in Racine don’t open and others do, Racine’s students will be further behind.

While there have been 766 coronavirus-related deaths in Wisconsin, none have been for anyone ages 0-19, the Wisconsin State Health Department confirmed Friday.

Throughout the nation, there have been 96,200 coronavirus-related deaths, as of Friday, with age group information available for 95,853.

Of those, 1.7% were between the ages of 0-4. And 0.1% were ages 5-17.

When asked for the actual numbers, a CDC media representative stated in an email: “When we have additional information, we will do a deeper dive on that information.”

The representative then offered a link to an April 6 analysis that stated: “In this preliminary description of pediatric U.S. COVID-19 cases, relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized, and fewer children than adults experience fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Severe outcomes have been reported in children, including three deaths.”

That said, the impact of coronavirus remains a very real concern and it will be important to continue to offer virtual options, because every family’s situation is different. Maybe a parent has a preexisting condition. Maybe the family lives with an aging grandparent. Maybe the child himself or herself has health issues. We also concede that preparations for a temporary closure in the event of an outbreak must be made.

But as school and government officials weigh the options for fall, they need to realistically think about all the consequences.

How many moms and dads will have to give up their jobs because their employer cannot accommodate every other day off for a child’s virtual learning?

How far behind will the kids who are unable to learn remotely get?

Yes, virtual options should exist. But in-person school, five days a week, must to be an option.


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