Should we go back to school? -Con

My best friend asked me when we were going to hang out again. It had been almost five months –– the longest we’d ever gone without seeing each other –– and we were getting desperate. The next weekend, she tested positive for COVID-19. 

She told me that she felt more tired from simply breathing with COVID than she had after staying awake for 37 hours to travel to Ireland. She couldn’t even write a coherent sentence because she was so mentally and physically exhausted. Her 50-year-old dad had headaches and minor body aches, but my 17-year-old friend felt like she had been hit by a bus. 

Now, a month later, the district wants to vote to put us back in schools. 

First of all, I’m glad that they postponed the vote because we’re literally in the middle of a stay-at-home order from the governor. This is not the right time to be discussing going back to anything, let alone a sardine can-like cesspool for germs and bad decisions. You can’t even trust kids not to spread a common cold, let alone a virus that’s killed over two million people worldwide. 

I’m from the school of thought that we probably shouldn’t return until the district agrees to sit in a compact room and make the decision in person. Not only are cases on the rise –– seriously, how many surges must we go through before people realize that they don’t understand this virus and they don’t know how to control it in social settings? –– schools are the worst possible place to open if you want to keep cases under control. 

I see nightly parties of 30 or more teenagers, and they’re all sharing drinks and taking group photos. They don’t care about my grandmother with cancer or my father with chronic lung problems. They care about their friends and their fun and their experiences –– and that’s fine. But I don’t want to mingle with people who can put my family at risk. All it would take is for one kid in a class to make one bad decision, and then I’d be sitting front row at a virtual funeral. I think I’ll pass. 

And it’s not like kids are immune from getting sick either. Sure, most kids will be asymptomatic, but that makes it even easier to carry a virus and spread it to others. And those who have underlying health conditions may not be as lucky. My friend felt worse than her father because she has asthma and massive levels of school-related stress that deteriorate her immune system. Teenagers shouldn’t expect to get out of this scot-free. 

And even if you get past the impending doom we all face, the plan itself is implausible. My parents already mumbled and grumbled about my school schedule because they work nights in restaurants, and interrupting their days always proved to be much more of a hassle than I would’ve liked. If I were to suddenly cut that schedule in half, they’d probably throw a riot from sleep deprivation and the crushing reminder of everything else they could be doing instead. For parents who work and don’t want to expose their children to yet another confined space with other virus carriers, this plan is a nightmare. 

And for those who choose cohort C, comme moi, I’m afraid that the quality of my education might be affected. If I’m live streaming my classes, how am I supposed to ask questions or participate in the class discussions? What if I have internet issues, and I can’t just replay the video lesson to catch up or finish the work on time? Why should I have to feel completely isolated just for taking care of my family?

On the other hand, what if the kids in school are the ones with the disadvantage? The new plan makes the school day sound more like a prison than an experience worth risking one’s life for. Maybe I’ll be the one with more mental time between classes to recuperate. Maybe I’ll be more organized without splitting my resources between physical and online school. Maybe I’ll have less fatigue because I’m able to cut down on commute times that take away from the endless amounts of work we have. It just seems unequal, and it’s never right to put one group at a disadvantage. 

In short, I’m staying home regardless of what plan the district comes up with –– and that’s my choice. Some say I’m antisocial or crazy; I say I have discipline and respect –– to each their own. But if the district wants a compelling and safe school year, they either need a new plan, or they need to accept that staying home is the only responsible choice.

To read the other side of the argument, go here: