Should I get the green folder or the blue? Is this paper wide ruled? Will my friends be in my new class? These questions may swarm in students’ heads before a normal school year.
But 2020 is definitely not normal.
Now, many kids are wondering: Is it safer to learn from home? Will my school reopen for class? Would I get sick? This is school in the time of the coronavirus. And people don’t really agree on all the answers. Still, life is going on — and some schools have already restarted.
Districts in several states are having in-person classes. Those include Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, and others. There are some changes, of course. In Godley, Texas, students and teachers wear masks or face shields. Kids use hand sanitizer and wash their hands.
Districts all have their own safety rules. There is still a risk though. In Canton, Georgia, an elementary school principal had to send out a tough letter. “Dear Parents,” wrote Ashley Kennerly. “I am writing this letter to communicate that a student in 2nd grade has tested positive for COVID-19.” That student’s class was stopped for two weeks. And people around the 2nd-grader were told to quarantine.
This same situation happened in other schools too. In just this Georgia district, about 1,200 people have had to go into quarantine. Two high schools decided to close for the month. Tennessee has seen cases in more than 20 districts. And a school in Indiana had to tell some students to quarantine after the first day.
These people may not have caught the sickness in schools. But they could still spread the virus there. Because of this, some schools are planning to go all digital to start the year. Those include most of the nation’s largest school systems. In California, Los Angeles and San Diego will have online learning. On Wednesday, officials in Seattle, Washington, voted to do the same.
Other countries are dealing with back-to-school questions too. Scotland’s schools opened their doors on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, more than 2 million students in a German state returned to class with masks. Indonesia has been letting schools in some low-risk areas reopen. Those are places with few cases of the virus. But some students and teachers have still been infected.
A lot of students haven’t started the new school year. They are wondering what it will be like. Teachers are thinking of this too. They include Cara Stropoli. She’s a high school Spanish teacher in New York. Her school is online until October. Stropoli told News-O-Matic she’s been learning new ways to use technology. But the teacher admitted it’s hard to be fully prepared. “We’re going to take it day by day,” she said. “And that’s OK.”
Officials are also planning ahead for in-person learning. “Everyone has to be masked at all times,” Stropoli shared. She added, “Students will be spaced out around the classroom.” Stropoli thinks these will be the main changes. But she has a question about her own role. “A huge part of being a teacher is being a goof,” she explained. “How am I supposed to do that when the kids can’t see my face?”
As for the students, Stropoli believes they’ll be just fine. “They’re resilient,” she said. “They can keep being their cool selves.”
Updated August 13, 2020, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Ashley Morgan