As a retired teacher and coach, I've thought about what it would be like going back to school this fall. It makes me very happy to be retired and not to have to make that decision.
I agree with many in that kids need to get back to face to face instruction safely and I don't need a politician to tell me that. Safety would of course depend on what part of the state you reside in. Many high risk districts have already made the decision to open online. Others have chosen some hybrid form or have chosen full capacity for 5 days per week. It's that 5 days per week that I think is pure fantasy. It only takes one infection among hundreds to start the spread. Do you remember when the United States only had one infection which has now become over 4.5 million along with many deaths. and now leads the world?
Those rural schools that are not over populated could open with some degree of prudence and safety by going to an every other day or every third day attendance. That would limit the student classroom capacity to a manageable number. I personally prefer the every third day attendance when you could limit enrollment to 6-8 kids per classroom. You could maintain distancing and at the same time give more attention to individuals and also proper distancing throughout the school day.
Teachers would have to plan a little differently but would still be seeing all students twice a week on most weeks to give instruction and answer questions. Elementary schools might need to limit testing and devote more time to instruction, As a teacher, I could survive with that setup and kids would be back to some teacher face to face instruction.
It sickens me when I listen to Betsy DeVos, who has never stepped foot in a public school, and other politicians tell me about how immune elementary students are, It is not 100% safe for them or the staff members of their building. We have 1.7 million students in Pennsylvania public schools. If only 1% get sick, which is a low number, that means at least 17 thousand plus will be infected and maybe worse. That does not include the other family members they could infect at home. That's like playing Russian roulette with kids' lives and their families lives. To open schools to full capacity with crowded hallways, buses, cafeterias, classrooms, restrooms and wherever else is fantasy to think it could be done safely. We should not be dealing in fantasy but dealing with common sense. That our politicians who might hope to gain something by full attendance should not be a factor.
Starting with limited enrollment for those districts not in hot spots is the safest way to begin this school year. What happens afterward will have to be dealt with accordingly. You can sanitize everyday, wear a space suit or whatever, but a crowded school building is a sure recipe for disaster. I'm glad I'm retired and only have to deal with safety measures at home, the store, golfing, swimming, and more. It would be more Russian roulette for a student or staff member with a compromised immune system, and we do have many, to go into a classroom with 20-30 students five or six times per day. We are getting closer to a vaccine and to better treatment drugs daily to deal with this virus. We don't have to rush into a new school year. We have until June 30, 2021.
Good luck to all students and staff members, stay safe.